Effect of Mint Flavoured Chewing Gum in Observing Changes in Cognitive Function while Assessing Test Performance- An Interventional Study
Dr. S Anu,
Professor and Head, Department of Physiology, Velammal Medical College Hospital and Research Institute, Anuppanadi, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Introduction: Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, memory and judgment. Chewing movement of jaw stimulates memory parts of brain by increasing blood flow and glucose delivery. Taste and odour of mint is also known to stimulate memory areas of the brain. The synergistic effect of chewing and flavour is expected to have a greater effect on cognition than chewing alone.
Aim: To assess the effect of use of mint flavoured, flavourless and absence of chewing gum on an individual’s cognitive function among the medical undergraduates.
Materials and Methods: This comparative, interventional study, was conducted in the Department of Physiology at Velammal Medical College and Hospital, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, August 2019 to September 2019. Study involved 75 (39 females,36 males) MBBS first year students, aged 18-20 years. Only students with cognitive score between 28-30 based on Mini-mental state exam score were included in the study and were divided into 3 groups. Group A (n=25) who were given mint flavoured chewing gum, Group B (n=25) given flavourless chewing gum and Group C (n=25) the control group, not provided with chewing gum. Baseline memory, Heart Rate (HR), Reaction Time (RT) and Stress Levels (SL) were recorded. Groups were taken into separate rooms where they were allowed to study a particular topic i.e Parkinson’s disease for 30 minutes. Then they were allowed to take tests on standard Parkinson’s questionnaire for 20 minutes and assessed based on the test performance. Group A and Group B were provided with chewing gums both during studying the topic as well as taking tests. Post intervention test performance (short term memory), HR, RT and SL were again recorded. Test performance was also assessed after one month to assess the effect of chewing gum on long term memory. One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and paired t-test were used to compare all the post test parameters between the three groups.
Results: A statistically significant increase in short term memory (p-value=0.001) and HR (p-value=0.001) were observed after intervention. Similarly, short term memory level of the three groups subjects statistically differed (p-value=0.001). When considering the reaction time (p-value=0.068) and stress level (p-value=0.927), there was no significant difference among the three groups after the intervention. Assessment of the test scores alone after one month (long term memory) showed a significantly higher score (p-value<0.001) in Group A when compared with the other two groups.
Conclusion: Mint flavoured chewing gum improves cognition as evidenced by improvement in test scores, alertness and attention. The performance in the flavour less chewing gum group was lesser than mint flavoured group, but significantly better than control group.