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Memory and Chewing Gum

Memory and Chewing Gum

Thursday 17th January, 2008

What sounds like an urban myth has been proven by researchers at the University of Northumbria...

Research conducted at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England has linked our ability to remember chunks of information to chewing gum. 75 participants in the study were asked to take part in a 20-minute memory test in which:

  • One third of participants chewed gum
  • One third carried out the motions of chewing gum, without any actual gum
  • A one-third control group did not chew gum

Researchers found that recall was improved by 35% among participants who chewed gum, most significantly in delayed word recall tests; perhaps indicating possible benefits for students revising for, and taking exams, chewing gum.

In a more recent experiment, Edward McLaughlin (2007) repeated the study with Wrigley's 5 gum at Cornell University and found similar improvements in recall and concentration among participants.

So, how does chewing gum help me to remember?

There are a number explanations for the link between recall and chewing gum:

  • Chewing gum raises the heart beat by around 3 BPM, increasing blood flow in the cerebral area, which could explain the improvement in such brain activity.

Aside from these studies, chewing gum while taking in information, and chewing again at the time it needs to be recalled, such as in an exam, may aid in a memory association between the action or taste of chewing gum and the information being remembered.

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