Wilton, Ireland — Chewing gum improves attention, comprehension and reaction time, and might sharpen performance of tasks such as driving, researchers in the UK report in a study published online ahead of print in the journal Physiology & Behavior.
The results of this study and similar research could help boost sagging gum sales, which fell six percent since 2013, according to the NCA’s Sweet Insights, and which Mintel Group Ltd. expects to decline by nine percent by 2018.
In the study, 40 participants completed vigilance tasks at the start of the study, with or without chewing gum, and twice after gum use. Their heart rate and EEG waves at the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes were measured and their mood recorded each time.
Measurements of both the central nervous and cardiovascular systems indicate gum use shortens reaction time and increased accuracy rates as well as improving several measurements of alertness in the brain’s temporal and frontal lobes, the authors write.
The effects of gum use don’t appear to last long after chewing. For example, although heart rate rose during chewing, it returned to normal afterward. In addition, by the time the participants performed the second post-chewing task, their detections became less accurate.