Bubble Brain

ImageA study done at Cardiff University has provided evidence to prove that chewing gum improves the speed and accuracy of which a task can be performed. Kate Morgan and her colleagues Andrew J. Johnson of the University of Bournemouth and Christopher Miles from the University of Cardiff were key individuals in the formation of the journal ‘Chewing gum moderates the vigilance decrement’. The paper was recently published in the British Journal of Psychology.

Previous research has been done on the topic, however, Morgan and her team focused their attentions on whether chewing gum could improve concentration when carrying out short-term memory based activities. They were particularly interested in whether the results altered in the latter stages of the activities.

The experiment was done on 40 volunteer Psychology undergraduates, who underwent a Bakan-type vigilance task which “requires the continual updating of short-term order memory.”  The participants were separated into 2 groups, where the control group was not given any gum, the other half was.  Both groups were instructed to complete an audio task by listening to a list of numbers from 1-9 that was read out at random. The subjects had to then identify an odd-even-odd pattern in the numbers as quickly and precisely as possible.

Morgan says the following in regards to the results, “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.”

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Subjects were given Wrigley’s sugar-free Spearmint gum to chew on.

Clearly the results confirm that we should all be chewing more gum. However, despite the overwhelming evidence showing that it helps you to concentrate, it is hard to forget about the fact that it is quite unhealthy. Besides the obvious harmful effects of the sugars that are found in most gum brands, according to a post on Livestrong’s website, gum can also aggravate temporomandibular joint problems. And if excessively swallowed, chewing gum is capable of blocking the intestines.  In light of this, I should probably suggest that you chew with caution or excessively scrutinize anything to do with Livestrong.

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