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Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2012;65(3):501-13. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2011.629054. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Gummed-up memory: chewing gum impairs short-term recall.

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School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.


Several studies have suggested that short-term memory is generally improved by chewing gum. However, we report the first studies to show that chewing gum impairs short-term memory for both item order and item identity. Experiment 1 showed that chewing gum reduces serial recall of letter lists. Experiment 2 indicated that chewing does not simply disrupt vocal-articulatory planning required for order retention: Chewing equally impairs a matched task that required retention of list item identity. Experiment 3 demonstrated that manual tapping produces a similar pattern of impairment to that of chewing gum. These results clearly qualify the assertion that chewing gum improves short-term memory. They also pose a problem for short-term memory theories asserting that forgetting is based on domain-specific interference given that chewing does not interfere with verbal memory any more than tapping. It is suggested that tapping and chewing reduce the general capacity to process sequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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