The solution to many students problems may only be a stick of chewing gum away. Recent studies have shown that chewing gum right before an exam may be able to boost ones score by increasing blood flow to their brain.
A study conducted from Saint Lawrence University tested 224 undergraduates in regards to this issue. They first divided the students into three groups.One chewed gum before and during the test, another chewed gum for five minutes before being tested and a third group didn’t chew anything. They found that a few minutes of gum chewing before testing improved a student’s performance on several of the tests. Unfortunately for us, this was only for a short period. The observed peak dropped to normal levels within 20 minutes after chewing the gum. Researcher Onyper explained, “Within the 15-to-20-minute ‘window’ of the effect, the chewing-gum group recalled 25-to-50-percent more items than the controls, which is statistically significant, but in practical terms amounts to a difference of two-to-three words.” The gum especially helped with recall and memory tasks. The researchers think that this improvement in brainpower is because the chewing warms up the brain because it is doing an activity. They have named this process and phenomenon “mastication-induced arousal.” This arousal turns the brain on just before test taking, and gets more blood flowing to the head. Chewing gum is also known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Most people are unaware but when it increases, more blood is to the brain for a total of about fifteen to twenty minutes which is when the people being tested performed the best.It can be assumed that mild exercise probably has the same effect as chewing gum in the sense that it has the ability to get ones heart rate up.The test takers who chewed gum the entire time didn’t show much improvement at all. Actually, it may not be a good idea to chew gum while taking a test. The researchers think the extra brainpower it takes to actually chew the gum takes away from the brain’s ability to take the tests and understand what the questions are truly asking. No benefits show up in test scores when the gum is chewed before and during the test. Unfortunately, it may be true that you can’t chew gum and think productively at the same time.
On the other had, the researchers did acknowledge some flaws they had in the design of the experiment which could have caused the results to be skewed favorably for anyone wanted chewing gum to improve test scores. Because the participants were specifically asked to chew the gum, it is very possible they were thinking about it a little more than they would be normally if they were chewing gum willingly. Researcher Onyper voiced, “In real-world situations the chewing might be more unconscious, automated, in which case it would take up very little cognitive resources and probably not affect performance much.”
I am sure that more studies will be conducted on this topic. So far, it has been proven that chewing gum can possibly increase alertness, improve memory, lower anxiety, and many other positive things. I think it is incredible that such a common thing as chewing gum can do so much for a chewer.