Chewing gum can quicken the brain’s reaction time by 10% according to research from Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences. The simple act of chewing appears to stimulate eight different parts of the brain.
“Our results suggest 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,” the researchers said.
Participants in the study sat 30-minute tests in which they had to press a button with either their left or right thumb, according to the direction of an arrow on a screen. They sat the same test twice: once while not chewing gum; once while chewing flavourless gum.
The subjects’ alertness and reaction time improved when they were chewing gum. Those who were not chewing took 545 milliseconds to react, while those who were took only 493 milliseconds. The participants also underwent brain scans that showed that the regions most active during chewing were those involved in movement and attention.
There are a few theories as to why this happens. In a previous study, researchers found that chewing a piece of gum for 20 minutes increased heart rate, which may have delivered more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Another theory is that gum-chewing produces insulin, which may affect memory and alertness.
Whatever is behind the results, if you need your staff to react those crucial 52 milliseconds faster, dolling out some Extra may be the cost-effective way to go.