Chewing gum and cognitive performance: A case of a functional food with function but no food?

Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK.
Appetite (Impact Factor: 2.69). 11/2004; 43(2):215-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2004.07.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recent reports suggest that enhancement of memory performance while chewing gum is a fairly robust phenomenon. The processes underlying the effect are not known, but may involve glucose delivery, context-dependent effects and arousal mechanisms amongst others. This brief commentary outlines the main findings from these studies and raises some issues regarding interpretation, methodology and future research directions.

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Available from: Andrew Scholey, Jul 22, 2015
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    • "It was reported that chewing gum is directly linked to the maintenance of the hippocampal function and it leads to an increase in the prefrontal cortex activity (Ono, Yamamoto, Kubo, & Onozuka, 2010). Several psychological studies using human subjects have shown that chewing, or even sucking a piece of sugar-free, spearmint flavored chewing gum, improves the cognitive activity – especially in working-memory tasks (Baker, Bezance, Zellaby, & Aggleton, 2004; Scholey, 2004; Stephens & Tunney, 2004a, 2004b; Wilkinson, Scholey, & Wesnes, 2002). Position Emission Tomography (PET) studies revealed that mastication increases blood-flow in various cortical and cerebellar regions; suggesting that chewing increases the availability of blood-borne glucose, thereby improving cognitive performance (Momose et al., 1997; Sünram-Lea, Foster, Durlach, & Perez, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies indicated that chewing gum may relieve stress and depression. There have, however, not been a significant number of studies on clinical usage of chewing gum. In the present study, 30 patients with mild to moderate depression were given either medication combined with chewing gum, or medication only, for 6weeks. Turkish adaptation of Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) was used to measure depression levels. Assessments were conducted by the same physician both before, and after treatment. The physician who was responsible for the assessment was not aware of the group allocation. Changes in main HAM-D scores and each item were analyzed by independent samples t test and Chi-Square test, respectively. Those patients who were administrated chewing gum responded better to the treatment than patients who took medication only. The most beneficial effect of chewing gum was observed on the gastrointestinal symptoms, e.g. loss of appetite, and flatulence among others. These results indicate that chewing gum may not be directly effective on depressed mood; however, it may reduce the symptoms originating from depression.
    Appetite 02/2013; 65C:31-34. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2013.02.002 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "The apparent facilitation of memory by chewing gum has been attributed to increased glucose to the brain, although only for immediate recall, while delayed recall does not appear to be supported by increased glucose (Stephens & Tunney, 2004). Some support has also been found for the idea that chewing gum increases attention but not memory itself (Tucha, Mecklinger, Maier, Hammerl, & Lange, 2004; see Scholey, 2004, for review). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the effect of chewing gum on memory when flavor is held constant. Four separate groups of participants (total n=101) completed a word recall task. At learning and recall, participants either chewed a piece of gum or sucked a sweet. Each participant completed the memory task twice, once with abstract words and once with concrete words. A significant effect of word type (concrete vs. abstract) was found, however recall performance was not improved by matched oral activity at learning and recall. The results cast further doubt on the ability of chewing gum to induce context-dependent memory effects.
    Appetite 08/2009; 53(2):253-5. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2009.06.013 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "While there is evidence of cortical activation during chewing gum [9] any relationship to cognitive processing is not clear at present. Certainly the exact mechanisms underpinning any cognition-enhancing effects have been the subject of speculation but remain to be elucidated [10] [11] [12] [13]. Measures of subjective state and aspects of performance have been included in studies into the effects of gum chewing during sleep deprivation. "
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    ABSTRACT: The notion that chewing gum may relieve stress was investigated in a controlled setting. A multi-tasking framework which reliably evokes stress and also includes performance measures was used to induce acute stress in the laboratory. Using a randomised crossover design forty participants (mean age 21.98 years) performed on the multi-tasking framework at two intensities (on separate days) both while chewing and not chewing. Order of workload intensity and chewing conditions were counterbalanced. Before and after undergoing the platform participants completed the state portion of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Bond-Lader visual analogue mood scales, a single Stress Visual Analogue Scale and provided saliva samples for cortisol measurement. Baseline measures showed that both levels of the multi-tasking framework were effective in significantly reducing self-rated alertness, calmness and contentment while increasing self-rated stress and state anxiety. Cortisol levels fell during both levels of the stressor during the morning, reflecting the predominance of a.m. diurnal changes, but this effect was reversed in the afternoon which may reflect a measurable stress response. Pre-post stressor changes (Delta) for each measure at baseline were subtracted from Delta scores under chewing and no chewing conditions. During both levels of stress the chewing gum condition was associated with significantly better alertness and reduced state anxiety, stress and salivary cortisol. Overall performance on the framework was also significantly better in the chewing condition. The mechanisms underlying these effects are unknown but may involve improved cerebral blood flow and/or effects secondary to performance improvement during gum chewing.
    Physiology & Behavior 04/2009; 97(3-4):304-12. DOI:10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.02.028 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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