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Keywords:

  • chewing gum;
  • caffeine;
  • mood;
  • cognitive performance

Abstract

Rationale

Recent research has shown that even small doses (<40mg) of caffeine can improve alertness and increase performance efficiency on attention tasks. Previous studies have given the caffeine in a variety of beverages or in capsules and it was of interest to see whether similar effects could be observed when the caffeine was given in gum. In addition, chewing gum has been shown to have behavioural effects and the present study extended our knowledge of this topic.

Objectives

To compare the effects of caffeinated gum (40 mg), placebo gum and no gum conditions on mood and attention.

Methods

A double blind placebo controlled study was conducted with volunteers being randomly assigned to one of the three conditions. Baseline measures of mood and attention were taken prior to chewing and a test session was then conducted. One hundred and eighteen young adults participated in the study.

Results

Caffeinated gum was associated with a more positive mood and better performance on tasks requiring sustained attention. The caffeine improved the speed of encoding of new information which is consistent with previous findings. Chewing placebo gum was also found to be associated with more positive mood, both shortly after chewing and at the end of the study.

Conclusions

The implications of the present study are that chewing caffeinated gum has been shown to improve performance efficiency and mood by its alerting and energising effects. The profile of caffeine effects is what one would predict from the existing caffeine literature and such effects may be extremely beneficial in real-life situations. Prior chewing of placebo gum was associated with a more positive mood and this also confirms previous findings. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.