It's the day of Ted's big exam. For the past 48 hours, note cards and study aids have been his fare. A tedium punctured only by the occasional fifteen-minute Facebook perusal and the quick errand to restock on caffeine.
As Ted walks into the lecture hall, the subtle intensity and perspiration-spawned humidity smacks him in the face. Everywhere, it's frazzled hair, anxious faces, and hurried, last minute study attempts. Ted knows it's time to draw his secret weapon. Reaching nonchalantly
into his bag, he grabs a pack of chewing gum, pops a stick into his
mouth, and confidently chews with purpose. Ted then takes a seat, not too close to the front, but not too far, either.
The tests begin to be passed out. They're slapped face down on desks like a judge's verdict. Only when the tests are overturned will the test-taker learn the ruling: innocent on all counts of multiple choice, or guilty of unpreparedness? Pass or fail?
As the test is placed before Ted, he spits the gum out of his mouth and places it neatly into the foil wrapper. He's ready.
College students today are looking for any opportunity to gain an upper hand on their studies. Unfortunately, this quest for an edge has led many to turn to potentially harmful drugs come test time. Aderall is a popular choice.
But somewhat ironically, if students would have just done a little research, they may have discovered a simpler, scientifically proven study aid with no ill effects: chewing gum.
In a 2002 study, psychologists in the United Kingdom administered a battery of attention and memory tests to a group of 75 subjects. One-third was given gum and asked to chew it, another third was instructed to chew without gum, and the final third did not chew at all. The researchers found that gum-chewers' scores were 24% higher than the controls' on
tests of immediate word recall, and 36% higher on tests of
delayed word recall.
In addition, a previous study conducted in 2000 found elevated brain activity in the hippocampus during gum-chewing. Researchers still aren't certain as to exactly why this happens.
But test-takers worldwide undoubtedly aren't too concerned with precisely why chewing gum provides such a notable mental advantage. They just care whether or not it works in real-life applications. Well, work it does.
Last year, Dr. Serge Onyper of St. Lawrence University conducted a study which showed that students who chewed gum for five minutes before taking a test performed better than those who did not. Cognitive benefits from what Onyper termed "mastication-induced arousal" lasted for approximately twenty minutes.
So there you have it, college students. Ditch the Adderall and chew your gum.