The experiment involved 75 people, split into three groups
of real chewers, non-chewers, and sham chewers.
Prior to undergoing the 25-minute computerized test, two chewing
groups spent three minutes working their real or imaginary
gum around their mouth.
The participants were then tested for their short-term memory,
such as recalling words and pictures, and working memory,
such as the ability to retain a persons telephone number.
We found a very clear pattern of improved memory when
gum was chewed, said Dr. Andrew Scholey, a psychologist
who carried out the study. People who chewed gum scored 40
percent more in memory tests than those who didnt.
During the tests to recall 15 words, the gum-chewers remembered
two or three more words than non-chewers. At the same time,
the heart rate of the real chewers, after the tests, was three
beats per minute faster than the non-chewers, and 1.5 beats
per minute faster than the sham chewers. The sham group also
performed better than non-chewers.
However, scientists also found chewing had no effect on long-term
Scientists did not determine why chewing affects memory function.
However, they now are working on two major theories. The first
is that the mild increase in heart rate may improve the delivery
of oxygen and glucose to the brain, enough to improve cognitive
function. The second is that chewing triggers the production
of insulin, which is very important for learning and memory.
According to Scholey, by chewing, the body can release insulin,
which is probably a conditioned response that occurs in anticipation
of a meal. It is known that there is insulin in areas
of the brain which are important for learning and memory,
Although, the findings are still preliminary, individuals
should take advantage of these findings and start chewing
gum. In fact, chewing gum is an inexpensive means of boosting
ones cognitive ability. And teachers may wish to consider
telling students to stop chewing gum in class, especially