Can chewing gum help keep you alert? Thats the suggestion of a new British study, though scientists arent sure why-maybe chewing boosts brain activity, or it could be the arousing effects of mint flavor. Researchers tested the effects of gum chewing on 30 Coventry University students who were put in a darkened room for 11 minutes for three consecutive days. On the first day, they chewed gum; on the second, they did nothing; on the third day, they mimicked a chewing motion with no actual gum. Scientists measured changes in pupil size as a sign of sleepiness, and also recorded self-reported alertness. On both measures, volunteers were more alert when theyd been chewing gum compared to doing nothing or pretending to chew.
TO LEARN MORE: Physiology and Behavior, online first; abstract at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22061430.