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Chewing Gum Increases Attention: Study

Update Date: Feb 04, 2013 05:24 AM EST

A latest study from Japan says that chewing gum can significantly increase cognitive abilities. Researchers found reaction times in gum-chewers to be 10 times faster than non-chewers, according to media reports.

The researchers found that chewing gum increased alertness temporarily in a group of participants who took a series of cognitive tests. On the other hand, the control group or study participants who didn't chew gum during tests, didn't have any increase in attention levels.

Study participants were asked to press the button on their left or right, depending on what arrow was lit up on the screen. All the participants were hooked on to a brain scan so that researchers could have a better look at the activity inside the brain during the test.

In the test, men and women who chewed gum took 493 milliseconds to react, while people who didn't chew gum took about 545 milliseconds, reports

Previous work on chewing gum showed that although chewing gum improved attention, it had no effects in boosting memory power. Another related study had reported that chewing gum can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and fatigue. Most of the studies on the subject of chewing gum and improvement in mental functioning argue that the effects are largely due to the act of chewing or mastication, rather than any ingredient in the gum.

"Our results suggest that chewing induced an increase in the arousal level and alertness in addition to an effect on motor control and, as a consequence, these effects could lead to improvements in cognitive performance," said the researchers from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan, who conducted the present study, according to Mail Online.

The study is published in the journal Brain and Cognition.

Other experts say that there is no clear answer that explains the increase in attention span of people who chew gum.

"We don't really know how chewing could have such effects. Is it simply stress-relieving? Or is something more fundamental going on?" said professor Andy Smith, from Cardiff University, reports

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