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Chew on this: The cognitive benefits of gum

I'm a day late to this, but a discussion on the cognitive benefits of chewing gum (!) is just too interesting to ignore. On Frontal Cortex yesterday, blogger Jonah Lehrer highlights some of the "impressive body of psychological literature on gum" - some which has shown that gum can "be an effective booster of mental performance," at least for the short-term. (Does its power wear out, I wonder, when the flavor goes away?) Lehrer writes:

What’s responsible for this mental boost? Nobody really knows. It doesn’t appear to depend on glucose, since sugar-free gum generated the same benefits. Instead, the researchers propose that gum enhances performance due to “mastication-induced arousal.” The act of chewing, in other words, wakes us up, ensuring that we are fully focused on the task at hand. Unfortunately, this boost is fleeting. The takeaway of this research is straightforward: When taking a test, save the gum for the hardest part, or for those questions when you feel your focus flagging. The gum will help you concentrate, but the help won’t last long.

Photo by maewe

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