Chewing gum damages short-term memory

Chewing gum damages short-term memory, according to researchers.

Contrary to previous studies that suggested chewing gum could improve recall, researchers at Cardiff University, UK, claim that chewing gum delivers negative consequences for short term memory (STM) in the same way as a peripheral speech impediment.

Led by Michail Kozlov, the research team said: “We show for the first time that fundamental aspects of STM – recall of both order and item identity – are in fact impaired by chewing gum.

“It is striking that none of the studies that have examined the effects of chewing gum on STM have employed the classic test of STM capacity – that is the reproduction of a short sequence of items”.

The researchers carried out three tests to conclude upon the impact of chewing gum on STM.

Forty students were asked to chew gum and remember sequences of random letters or find missing digits or items in sequences. Both tests found chewing gum to harm STM.

The participants also tapped their fingers rather than chew gum and repeated the test to compare differences between chewing and tapping. The two activities were both quite similar; impairing memory recall.

The researchers mentioned that flavoured chewing gum could possibly trigger the negative effect on short-term memory.

The team said: “However, because chewing gum usually loses its flavour after several minutes of chewing… it seems advisable, that chewing gum is only considered a performance enhancer as long as flavour lasts”.


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