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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 3, March 2013, Posted On: 2/13/2013

Chew Gum, Think Fast

Hank Schlesinger
TAGS: gum chewing study, Japanese gum chewing research, Effects of Chewing On Cognitive Processing Speed, Journal of Brain and Cognition, alertness and chewing gum, gum chewing and brain activity

CHIBA, Japan -- Japanese researchers have published a scientific paper that may hold clues as to why the simple act of chewing gum improves reaction time and alertness.

The paper, entitled "Effects of Chewing On Cognitive Processing Speed" and published in the Journal of Brain and Cognition, showed that as many as eight areas of the brain are affected by the act of chewing gum.

In the first of its kind research, volunteers were divided into two groups -- those who chewed gum and those who did not. The two groups performed tasks while their brains were scanned.

According to the research paper, the performance improvements might be due to increased blood flow to the brain caused by chewing. The brain regions most active during chewing were those involved with movement and attention. That could account for the increased levels of alertness and motor control.

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