Can chewing gum boost sports performance on the field?

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Jordan Spieth won this year’s British Open, golf’s oldest tournament, in dramatic fashion but that may not be the most enduring memory of his performance.

During the first two rounds of the tournament, Spieth could be seen vigorously chewing gum. That sparked a debate about the role, if any, that gum chewing plays in sports performance. The discussion began during live coverage of the rounds on the Golf Channel and was flamed by social media. Did chewing gum contribute in any way to Spieth’s performance or was it merely coincidence?

Researchers have left nary a stone unturned and sure enough, there is scientific research on the effects of gum chewing on physical and cognitive performance. And not surprisingly, the findings from those studies are far from uniform.

In 2011, researchers from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York published a study that explored the cognitive advantages of chewing gum. The study found a positive correlation between chewing gum and the speed at which the brain processes information, which could benefit an athlete in any sport.

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Marc Ross

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