Effects Of Chewing On Alertness, Attention, and Cognitive Processing Speed

Effects Of Chewing On Alertness, Attention, and Cognitive Processing Speed

I saw these two articles about an interesting effect I was completely unaware of. I figured some people might find it worthwhile to try out.

These findings appear to indicate that the simple act of chewing has a positive effect on alertness and attention as well as an effect on motor control. As a result these effects could lead to improvements in cognitive performance, particularly measures of cognitive processing speed. 


Effects of chewing gum and time-on-task on alertness and attention.


School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. allenap@cf.ac.uk



Chewing gum has been shown to reliably increase subjective alertness whereas the effects on attention are more variable. It has been suggested that chewing gum only enhances attention when the person has been performing a task for some time.


The current research aimed to investigate if time-on-task trends enhancing effects of chewing gum could be observed in alertness and attention during and following chewing.


Study 1 used tests of reported mood, including reported mood, and tests of attention (categoric search, focussed attention, simple reaction time, and vigilance). These tasks were performed shortly after the start of chewing. Study 2 examined effects of previous and current chewing on reported alertness and the attention tests.


Study 1 showed that chewing gum increased reported alertness and hedonic tone and improved performance on the categoric search task. Chewing gum maintained reported alertness across sessions in study 2. In the first experimental session of study 2 gum improved categoric search performance, and during the second session gum broadened focus of attention and quickened vigilance reaction time. This effect on vigilance reaction time was moderated by time-on-task, with an initial negative effect being replaced by a positive effect.


The results confirm the robust effect of chewing gum on reported alertness and show that changes in the effects of chewing gum on attention require further investigation. Future research may also determine underlying mechanisms for an alerting effect.

Effects of chewing on cognitive processing speed.


Research Program for Carbon Ion Therapy and Diagnostic Imaging Research, Center for Charged Particle Therapy, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4-9-1 Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba 263-8555, Japan. hirano@nirs.go.jp


In recent years, chewing has been discussed as producing effects of maintaining and sustaining cognitive performance. We have reported that chewing may improve or recover the process of working memory; however, the mechanisms underlying these phenomena are still to be elucidated. We investigated the effect of chewing on aspects of attention and cognitive processing speed, testing the hypothesis that this effect induces higher cognitive performance. Seventeen healthy adults (20-34 years old) were studied during attention task with blood oxygenation level-dependent functional (fMRI) at 3.0 T MRI. The attentional network test (ANT) within a single task fMRI containing two cue conditions (no cue and center cue) and two target conditions (congruent and incongruent) was conducted to examine the efficiency of alerting and executive control. Participants were instructed to press a button with the right or left thumb according to the direction of a centrally presented arrow. Each participant underwent two back-to-back ANT sessions with or without chewing gum, odorless and tasteless to remove any effect other than chewing. Behavioral results showed that mean reaction time was significantly decreased during chewing condition, regardless of speed-accuracy trade-off, although there were no significant changes in behavioral effects (both alerting and conflict effects). On the other hand, fMRI analysis revealed higher activations in the anterior cingulate cortex and left frontal gyrus for the executive network and motor-related regions for both attentional networks during chewing condition. These results suggested that chewing induced an increase in the arousal level and alertness in addition to an effect on motor control and, as a consequence, these effects could lead to improvements in cognitive performance.

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