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Chewing Gum May Boost Your Focus and Concentration

Update Date: Mar 13, 2013 03:34 PM EDT

If you're like most people, by this point in the afternoon, you're tired or your concentration ability is faltering. If that is the case, you might be well served by popping in a stick of gum. A recent study conducted by researchers from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom found that chewing gum can improve your concentration ability and help you focus for longer. That's good news for everyone but the person sitting beside the guy chomping like a cow.

"It's been well established by previous research that chewing gum can benefit some areas of cognition," study author Kate Morgan said in a statement. "In our study we [focused] on an audio task that involved short-term memory recall to see if chewing gum would improve concentration; especially in the latter stages of the task."

The study was conducted by splitting 38 participants into two groups, one of which was designated the gum chewing group. The participants first needed to complete a test that determined their mood before and after the task. Each of the participants, regardless of group, needed to complete a 30-minute audio task. The assignment required participants to listen to a string of numbers that were read out in a random order. The goal for each participant was to quickly and accurately realize whether the string of numbers consisted of an odd-even-odd combination, like 9-4-3.

Participants who chewed gum tended to react even more quickly and more accurately than the people who did not. That finding seemed to be particularly true toward the end of the experiment, when both groups were likely becoming fatigued.

"Interestingly participants who didn't chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end," Ms. Morgan stated. "This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time."

The researchers do not state why they believe that a link exists between chewing gum and increased focus and concentration. Regardless, it can only be seen whether that link will be strengthened or weakened when Wrigley's caffeinated gum appears next month on store shelves.

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychology.

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