By Gillian Tierney, Health Sciences; Karly Frye, Health Sciences; Logan Carpenter, Health Sciences
Advisor: Susan Kotowski
Abstract: A common practice to increase performance on standardized testing is to chew mint-flavored gum before testing. Studies have shown gum-chewing (GC) benefits various aspects of memory, attention, and processing. Physical activity (PA) has also shown increased alertness, memory, and cognition. Though studies have been conducted on GC and PA, they have not been comparatively tested. The aim of this project was to explore the effects that GC and PA had on cognitive performance. 13 healthy individuals were recruited, ages 18-30, with no known limitations. Each completed a randomized set of trials over three visits. During the baseline visit the subject sat without interaction for 15 minutes prior to completing a 3-minute Stroop test using a phone app. During the following visits, the participant either chewed mint gum or completed a scripted PA routine for 10 minutes prior to sitting 5 additional minutes before completing the Stroop test. A paired t-test was conducted on the percent of correct responses for all three trial groups. Baseline vs Exercise (p=.004), Baseline vs Gum (p=.018), and Exercise vs Gum (.002) were all found to be statistically significant. Statistical significance was also found between time to answer a correct response for baseline vs gum and exercise vs gum. Anxiety and stress were also examined to see if there were any correlations, and the exercise group found significant data (p=0.01). Even with the limited data gathered, we found that both PA and CG improved cognitive performance, PA having stronger improvements on the Stroop Test than CG.