If you want to score higher, frag better and keep your name on the big board, don't worry about putting in time at the video controllers or loading up on energy drinks. All you need to do according to a recent study, is sniff peppermint.
Past research had shown that peppermint enhances attention, memory, alertness and mood. There have also been studies that show video game play has benefits to the body and brain. So a team of researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University wanted to put both those theories to the test.
They wired up college students and had them play three Nintendo Wii Fit Plus games that demand eye/hand coordination and cognitive reactions: Perfect 10, Snowball Fight and Obstacle Course. After playing the games under normal conditions to get a baseline, some of the players were asked to sniff a peppermint scent.
According to the researchers, those that sniffed showed "greater improvements, such as completing significantly more levels, more hits, more stars, and distance completed. Further, participants in the peppermint condition reported less mental demand, perceived effort, and anxiety."
They saw 4% more levels completed by the peppermint sniffers in Perfect 10, and peppermint empowered gamers scored 26% more hits in the Snowball Fight game.
The research team also found that the gamers who sniffed peppermint had experienced no significant change in pulse rate or blood pressure, suggesting the scent promoted "greater physiological arousal, keeping them engaged in the testing process."
Their conclusion was that the combination of video games and an arousing scent like peppermint can help your cognitive performance. How long before we see a peppermint drink push Red Bull off the shelves?
[Photo credit: Rad Jose via Creative Commons]
For more, follow me @ericrogell.