As far as the desire to improve memory, there have been more than a few studies and experiments looking for the secret to broadening the mind. A study in 2002 found a surprising result from the act of chewing gum that improved their short and long-term recall facilities. Now a new study claims to bust this myth and found that not only does chewing gum do nothing to improve short term memory, but it actually worsens it. So where do we find the truth in all these claims; science tends to go back and forth proving then disproving until finally the truth in the centre is found. While we should all learn to listen critically to what science studies show, it’s usually inaccessible to the common man so we’ll try to break down the facts and plainly dissect this subject.
Let’s start at the beginning; in 2002 a study was publish in the journal Appetite which documented the initial results that explained chewing gum was one of the ways to improve memory. The researchers took 75 adults and split them into three groups while running cognitive improvement tests; one group would be chewing gum during the test while some would not be chewing at all and the last group would be mimicking the act of chewing. They found that the people that were chewing gum scored better on long and short term memory tests overall; how to improve your memory had an answer in chewing gum from that study and that understanding was perpetuated for years. In a related perpetual myth it appears memory games to improve memory may actually do little to help, but that’s a whole other story.
It was thought that there were three reasons this method could improve memory; brain activity increases in the hippocampus while people chew, gum chewing promotes insulin which indirectly effects memory or chewing increases heart rate which automatically helps the brain improve memory. However the new study by the University of Cardiff found that recalling the correct order of items was incredibly impaired for those who chew gum. We now await the rebuttal from the pro-chewing gum camp, but until then we’ll have to continue to try more traditional means to improve memory.