I received a thoughtful e-mail from a Think Gum customer asking me what I thought about a recent study titled “Gummed-up memory: Chewing gum impairs short-term recall”. His e-mail and my response are below:
Hello,Been chewing Think Gum for a few weeks. Seems to be helping me focus/concentrate, but I didn’t really notice an improvement in short or long term memory.A study was recently published, and then picked up by about every news publication incl. the New York Daily News, challenging the notion that chewing gum improves memory – and actually arguing the opposite: it hinders it.Here is the link – http://digitaljournal.com/article/324007. (If you type in “Chewing Gum Memory” into Google, you can find at least 10 articles on it)The researchers who conducted the study say that the discrepancy between past and current conclusions is attributed to flavor. The above study examined flavorless gum, while past studies examined flavored gum. However, they point out that the flavor in gum only lasts minutes, so the benefit only lasts minutes.I’d really appreciate your insight on the matter. Think Gum is marketed a great product, but for me to really feel comfortable using it, I need to understand if and when it actually works (best). What is your response to this recent study?I’ve read the “Research” section of the Think Gum website, but I naturally am led to question any study facilitated by someone with a vested interested in the result.In short, when does Think Gum actually work, and when is it doing nothing or even hindering my ability to learn, test, memorize, focus, etc.?Best,B
I will agree with you that the recent study from Cardiff University is provocative. However there have been about 50 studies looking at the effects of chewing gum on cognition. Most have been positive, a few neutral, but to my knowledge this is the first that is negative.
As a PhD student at Stanford who conducts research on a daily basis, I have been trained to be skeptical of studies and to pay close attention to how the studies were conducted. The study from Cardiff University only examined verbal serial short term memory. Additionally some of the their groups have as few as 12 people in them. Finally, they asked people to chew flavorless gum! I understand their comment about the flavor being lost from gum in the matter of minutes, but Think Gum retains its flavor for a long time (at least 30 minutes) and the aroma stays even longer, so I think this idea is completely invalid.
I agree I am very biased as the owner of Think Gum LLC. However, the Think Gum study was adequately powered, properly controlled and examined a very plausible academic scenario. Our study would be very akin to remembering vocabulary for a foreign language exam the next day. I doubt, you will be asked to vigorously chew flavorless gum while memorizing and then quickly recalling random digits on your next exam!
As for how Think Gum works best, I can tell you anecdotally and based on the study I conducted. The Think Gum showed that when chewed while learning and remembering, Think Gum significantly improved short and long-term memory for things like random words and first and last names. It also made chewers feel more alert, and a heightened ability to concentrate and to perform.
We have not studied Think Gum over the long-term but many of the ingredients in Think Gum have been studied over the long-term with positive results. A product that improve memory, makes people feel more alert and a heightened ability to concentrate would be poised to be effective with nearly any mental task.
Chewing Think Gum is very different than chewing flavorless gum, and I would argue that chewing Think Gum becomes effortless after 5 seconds, while chewing flavorless gum or being required to tap your finger over and over would require some metal power that may distract from the task at hand. In contrast to flavorless gum, Think Gum contains a blend of herbal ingredients shown to improve cerebral blood flow independent of the chewing action alone.
I short, while I don’t disagree with the results of the study, I do have a problem with extending the findings to real world scenarios. In the real world, no one is required to chew flavorless gum or tap their finger during class. However, if they choose to chew Think Gum, they will may see a real world benefit to their mental performance.
All the best,
Matt Davidson, Founder of Think Gum LLC