If you love chewing gum, I’ve got good news and bad news for you.
The bad news is, gum can harm your memory. The good news is that you’ll probably forget all about it soon enough.
All kidding aside, a new study finds that gum can make it so that the things you learn — or try to learn — while chewing just won’t stick.
In a series of experiments, British researchers asked 40 students to try several memory puzzles while chewing and not chewing flavorless gum. In one, they were asked to remember a sequence of random letters. In another, they were shown a sequence and asked to figure out what was missing.
Didn’t matter. When they were chewing, they didn’t do as well as they did when not chewing. It didn’t even matter if the students chewed vigorously or naturally — the results were consistently the same.
By the way, the researchers did another experiment where the students were asked to tap their fingers instead of chew gum — and found that finger-tapping also harmed memory.
Seems like we’re not as cut out for multitasking as we think we are.
I wouldn’t read too much into this study since it’s the first to show that gum can hurt memory. In fact, other studies have shown that gum can actually improve it.
The researchers say the difference might be in the flavor — and that the flavors in gum might protect memory, while the lack of flavor harms it.
Since the study didn’t actually compare the two, there’s no way to know that for sure. But since most people chew their gum long after the flavor expires, you might want to spit yours out before you try to memorize a phone number or shopping list.