Dr Andy Johnson talks chewing gum and concentration on The Today Programme

Psychology lecturer Dr Andy Johnson spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme about his research into chewing gum and concentration.

Andy was part of a team of researchers who found that chewing gum can help people focus better while doing tasks.

“In this study our participants undertook a very monotonous and repetitive constant vigilance task, where participants were presented with a sequence of digits and they were looking out for a particular signal,” he told presenter James Naughtie.

He added that participants who chewed gum had less of a decrease in performance throughout the task, and reported being significantly more alert.

He said: “So what we suggest is that chewing gum can facilitate vigilance during a monotonous task but that this is only found when performance has dropped to sub-optimal level, so when it starts to fall down that’s when gum has some scope for having a benefit.

“But if we are at our normal operating levels, we are sort of at ceiling effect, so there is nowhere for cognition to go. So only once our performance begins to drop does gum introduce a benefit in performance and vigilance.”

Dr Johnson, who worked on the study with researchers from Cardiff University, explained that chewing increases blood flow to the brain and that increases delivery of glucose and oxygenated blood to the parts of the brain that are doing the task.

He was also interviewed on BBC Radio Solent’s Breakfast Show, local station Wave 105 and BBC Radio Scotland about the research, which appears in the British Journal of Psychology.

You can listen to Dr Andy Johnson on the Today Programme here for the next seven days.

Dr Andrew Mayers talks about sleep and postnatal depression on Hot Radio

Dr Andrew Mayers, senior lecturer in psychology at BU, was interviewed on Hot Radio about post-natal depression and people struggling to sleep.

In the 12 O’Clock Interview slot on the local radio station, Andrew talked to presenter Geoff Carter about post-natal depression, and the stigma still attached to it.

He said: “I think people are more aware of it than they were but there is still this stigma, fear and guilt. But it’s something that you shouldn’t feel guilty about and can be dealt with.”

“What we are hoping to do is train health visitors, GPs and mothers during the pregnancy period and afterwards about symptoms and what sort of problems might occur.”

He added that people should not be afraid to talk about the issue: “So many mothers tell me they didn’t report it as they were frightened their baby would be taken away, but that simply is not the case.”

Andrew also spoke about the research he has done into sleep patterns, and gave tips on how to get a good night’s rest.

“The impact poor sleep can have on our lives is certainly quite dramatic,” he said.

“I think one of the best things to do to ensure you get a good night’s sleep is routine and to avoid things that keep you awake at night – like mobile phones and too much activity shortly before going to bed.

“Have some sort of relaxation but also make sure the bedroom is a calm, cool, well-ventilated place to sleep.”

He also talked about the work he has been doing to tackle sleep problems in children, running workshops at Winton Primary School.

He said that if parents think their child might not be getting enough sleep, they should help them establish a routine, but also look at technology in their bedroom – such as computers or games consoles – that may be interfering with their sleep.

Intellectual property law brought to life in student collaboration


Students from the Business School and School of Design, Engineering and Computing (DEC) will work together on a project that aims to bring intellectual property to life.

Final year Law students, from the Business School will advise final year DEC students from across product design and creative technology-based courses, while they create a product or innovation to bring to market.

Intellectual property law – such as copyright, trademarks, designs and patents – is particularly important for design students as it provides a means of protecting the products they create.

Dr Dinusha Mendis, Senior Lecturer in Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at BU said: “This project provides for real-life scenarios and brings intellectual property to life.  It is a very practical project which allows the law students to act as lawyers for the DEC students who are their clients.”

The project will last until March, and kicked off with an Intellectual Property Masterclass, where students from across the two schools learned more about the law and how it can be used.

Donal O’Connell, from Chawton Innovation Services spoke to the students about what Intellectual Property is, and how it can benefit businesses.

He welcomed the idea of the student project.

“It seems to be quite unique – I haven’t come across it before,” he said.

“Having this sort of collaboration helps breaks down barriers – the engineers understand that there is more to life than just creating a product.

“The fact that they are doing it at university, before they even get into industry, is absolutely great.”

Matthew Schrader, Head of Intellectual Property Law, at Kiteleys Solicitors in Bournemouth, also spoke to the students.

He agreed that the collaboration would be great experience for the students.

“From a law point of view, it is a good opportunity to find out what it is like to work with real clients,” he said. “It’s a very good idea.”

The students will work in teams to put the theory they have learnt into practice.

There will also be prizes for the best Law student, best DEC student and the best group, sponsored by Paul Turner, a retired Patent Attorney.