Want a brain boost? Grab a stick of gum and get chewing, new research suggests. Though you may want to ditch that wad before trying any mental gymnastics, as gum only helps improve test scores if chewed before, not during, testing.
The chewing motion gets blood flowing to the head, the researchers suggest, where it improves memory, according to how quickly a test-taker can recall information in the lab. The effect only lasted a few minutes, but researchers think chewing gum before a test could give students an advantage in some ways.
“I do not know how things would work when you’re testing something learned days or weeks ago, but given the study’s findings, I can speculate that if both working memory, episodic memory and general speed of information-processing benefit from gum-chewing, so would many testing situations, which presumably rely extensively on those mental capacities,” study researcher Serge Onyper, of St. Lawrence University, in Canton, N.Y., told LiveScience.