Odd Trick to Perform Better on a Test

Have a final exam coming up? Maybe your test prep should include chewing gum.

Students who chewed gum for five minutes before taking a test did better on the test than non-gum-chewing students, according to a study by researchers at St. Lawrence University.

The credit goes to "mastication-induced arousal," says study leader Serge Onyper, an assistant professor of psychology. Translation: Chewing gum revs up the brain.

But here's the catch: The cognitive boost only lasts for about the first 20 minutes or so of testing.

The study: Student volunteers were divided into three groups before they were given a battery of cognitive tests.

  • Group I chewed gum for five minutes before the testing and then spit it out.
  • Group II chewed gum throughout the testing.
  • Group III did not chew gum.

    The results: Those who chewed the gum for five minutes before the test began enjoyed the biggest cognitive boost. Why? Many studies have shown that any type of physical activity can produce a performance boost; this study points out that even mild physical activity can bring on such a boost.

    Chewing gum gave the subjects multiple advantages, but only when chewed for five minutes before testing, not for the duration of the test. Benefits persisted for the first 15 to 20 minutes of testing only.

    Onyper notes that a possible reason the benefits didn't continue throughout testing may be due to "a sharing of resources by cognitive and masticatory processes." Translation: You can't chew gum and think productively at the same time.

    The study findings were published in the journal Appetite.

    --From the Editors at Netscape

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