According to a recent study, chewing gum can help concentration! Findings published in the British Journal of Psychology, from a study by Kate Morgan and colleagues at Cardiff University, showed that chewing gum can help people to stay focused for longer on specific tasks requiring continuous monitoring – in the case of this study, an audio memory task.
Thirty-eight volunteers were split in to two groups. Each group was asked to complete a 30-minute audio task involving listening to numbers from 1-9 being read out in a random order, and identifying sequences of odd-even-odd numbers, such as 7-2-1.
One group was asked to chew gum during the test, and the other group was asked not to. Participants were scored on their speed and accuracy in detecting sequences. Participants’ moods were also assessed before and after the task using a questionnaire.
The results of the study indicated that participants in the group who chewed gum throughout the test had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than those who didn’t chew gum. The difference between the groups was particularly evident towards the end of the task, when the decline in performance and subjective alertness seen in the group not chewing gum were found to be absent in the chewing-gum group.
But how does chewing gum help concentration?
Kate Morgan explained on the website of the British Psychological Society – “Interestingly participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end. This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.” The researcher also confirmed that the results were as expected, in line with previous findings from other studies: “It’s been well established by previous research that chewing gum can benefit some areas of cognition. In our study we focused on an audio task that involved short-term memory recall to see if chewing gum would improve concentration; especially in the latter stages of the task.”