Thirty participants were asked to complete a variety of tasks associated with clerical office work. One of the tasks was the completion of a series of cognitive problems measuring visual memory, verbal memory, reaction time, and impulsivity. Participants were also subjected to a typing task, where they were asked to reproduce a short story as quickly and accurately as possible.
The mock office workers visited the laboratory three times, each time performing the tasks under a different scent condition. These conditions consisted of the presentation of coffee scent or chocolate scent (administered through low flow oxygen via a nasal cannula), and a control condition where only un-scented oxygen was presented.
Upon completion of the clerical tasks, several additional assessments were made, such as the participants’ mood, self-rated measures of workload, and ratings of alertness and fatigue.
Statistical analyses were conducted by controlling the frequency of coffee and chocolate consumption, preference for coffee and chocolate smells, and preference for coffee and chocolate taste. Typing accuracy was greater when coffee scent was used, as was a significant increase in typing speed words per minute.
On the other hand, when chocolate scent was administered, there was a significant increase in visual motor speed information processing and an increase in impulse control. An increase in visual motor speed means you can process visual information more quickly, and thus respond to information more quickly, so you can get your office tasks completed faster. An increase in impulse control also implies that you are less likely to make a mistake on your tasks. It’s a win-win!
So if you want to keep on track with your word processing tasks, keep that cup of coffee next to your computer so you can benefit from the aroma. Or if you need an extra cognitive boost for your Sudoku puzzle, an open box of aromatic chocolates may do the trick.
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