Let Them Chew Gum

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I was excited to find this study from Baylor College in Houston that suggests chewing gum might improve people’s performance on standardized tests.

YES. I love it when science justifies my bad habits/middle school insurrections.

Unfortunately the effect isn’t that big- like 3 percent. But they did use sugar-free gum, so at least we know it wasn’t just your basic sugar-rush.

There is a surprisingly large amount of data out there on the cognitive benefits of chewing gum, and it seems that nobody’s managed to nail down what exactly is going on. Some suggest that chewing reduces stress, much as exercise does, while others think it’s just oral-fixation and therefore quasi-arousing. Still others think that it could he the presence of flavor, which adds another “dimension to experience,” or perhaps the rhythmic aspect of chewing.

For all the gorey details of mastication research , check this out.

Chewing gum certainly seems like it helps me think better. And I’m pretty sure the baseball players of the world would agree. But honestly, it could just be the placebo effect screwing with us again…

Regardless, all those elementary and middle school kids whose schools have out-lawed gum should seize upon this. Start a petition! Stage a chew-in!

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