by: Andy Chen
I used to stay away from chewing bubblegum when I was young — after all, I was afraid that it would take seven years for the gum to digest if I accidentally swallowed some.
While the whole “seven years to digest” tale told out to be a myth (a quick Google search shows that gum takes only a few days to digest, although swallowing a large amount still isn’t recommended), there is another significant “myth” surrounding gum that actually does have ground to stand on: chewing gum may improve memory.
That’s not to say that popping a pack of gum in your mouth every day will just gradually increase memory capacity. Rather, supporters of the theory claim that chewing gum while studying, and then chewing that same flavor during an actual exam will allow students to more clearly remember the material they study.
This technique is closely related to a principle in psychology called association, which refers to a mental connection between concepts or ideas. Many believe that students will, consciously or not, have an easier time recalling what they learned because the material they’ve studied for may be associated with the act of chewing gum or the flavor of gum that they’re chewing.
According to Psychology Today, others believe that chewing gum also indirectly improves students’ memories. It relieves stress and improves attention through the release of cortisol, a stress relieving hormone. Additionally, gum almost always contains sugar, so additional glucose taken from chewing gum may increase blood circulation within the brain.
These results aren’t definitive whatsoever — only several studies have been published correlating chewing gum and memory. However, the next time you’re up late studying and reach for a cup of coffee or tea, consider grabbing a pack of bubble gum instead.