A number of studies have shown that gum can help people stay focused on tasks for longer, enhancing concentration during memory tests.
One research that assessed its effects on audio memory revealed that the participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than those who didn’t chew gum. This proved increasingly true toward the latter parts of the 30-minute audio task.
“Interestingly, participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end,” Kate Morgan, author of the study from Cardiff University, told the British journal Psychology. “This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.”
The researchers explained that gum increases the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain responsible for attention. More oxygen can keep people alert and quicken their reflexes. Interestingly, it’s not a task that allows you to fake it ’til you make it: Research shows that people do not get the benefits by just pretending to chew gum.
Carolyne Cybulski, a pre-school teacher in Toronto, found similar results when it came to her kids. She encouraged her little ones to chew gum during the day, since it leads to less fidgeting, increased attention and lowered anxiety.
“Children learn through their senses – and oral activity can be very calming,” Cybulski explained to The Globe and Mail. “The act of chewing gum also provides constant sensory input to the muscles in the jaw and ears and we find it helps children to concentrate better.”