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Brain Nerve. 2014 Jan;66(1):25-32.

[Chewing and cognitive function].

[Article in Japanese]

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Research Center for Child Mental Development, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University.


Chewing does not only crush food to aid swallowing and digestion; it also helps to relieve stress and regulate cognitive functions, including alertness and executive function. It is well known that chewing gum is used for sleepiness prevention during work, learning, and driving. In addition, it has been shown in the elderly that a decrease in the number of residual teeth is related to dementia onset. These findings suggest a link between chewing and maintaining memory and attention. Recently, many studies regarding the effects of chewing on memory and attention were conducted using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). When a working memory task was used, the middle frontal gyrus in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex showed greater activation in addition to producing higher alertness after chewing. Furthermore, using an attentional network test, reaction time shortened, and the anterior cingulate cortex and left frontal gyrus were both activated for the executive network. From these results, it is suggested that chewing elevates alertness, consequently leading to improvements in cognitive performance. In this review, we introduce findings concerning the effects of chewing on cognitive performance, and discuss the neuronal mechanisms underlying these effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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