A new study finds that you can give your concentration powers a boost simply by gargling sugar water. A research team from the University of Georgia in the US enlisted 51 students to perform two tasks that required a lot of patience and focus. The first involved the students meticulously crossing out the letter E on a page from a statistics book. In the second tedious task, they were asked to identify the colour of various words that flashed on a screen, with the words spelling out the names of other colours.
Before performing the tasks, half of the students rinsed their mouths with lemonade sweetened with sugar for three to five minutes, while the other half rinsed with lemonade made with the artificial sweetener Splenda. Turned out, the students who gargled with sugar were significantly faster in their responses than the Splenda group.
“Researchers used to think you had to drink the glucose and get it into your body to give you the energy to [have] self control,” says coauthor Leonard Martin, professor of psychology. “After this trial, it seems that glucose stimulates the simple carbohydrate sensors on the tongue.” He adds: “This, in turn, signals the motivational centers of the brain where our self-related goals are represented. And it’s these signals, he adds, that wake your body up and tell it to start paying attention.”
Have to work late when you’d rather be heading home? Martin suggests gargling a bit of sugar water may not only help you focus better on the task at hand but help strengthen your resolve to do something you’d rather not be doing. “It is the self-investment,” Martin suggested gargling with sugar water might even aid those trying to lose weight or stop smoking, at least in the short run. The study appeared in the journal Psychological Science.