Which stimulant works best?

By Jackie Carpenter, Christina Rapert and Kristen West

Description/Experiment Summary

We decided to try combining our favorite things-- caffeinated drinks and our enjoyment for reflex games!

There are many different products that guarantee brain stimulation, and many different studies have been done on the many different brain stimulants that keep people focused. So we decided to do an experiment on these tried and true stimulants to discover which one is overall the best by using the popular iPad game, Llama vs. Duck. This game tests a person's ability to react quickly and focus on the moving pictures of llamas and ducks.

We wanted to see the effects that different stimulants had on a person's ability respond quickly. By using water, chewing gum, and mints, we wanted to test how these factors affected a person's reflexes, or if they made a difference at all. We noticed that varying stimulants helped get the tester to focus; they were able to accomplish much more and have faster reflexes.


Monster Energy's active ingredients include:

B vitamin supplements to add energy

Guarana to add caffeine

Sugar, which also adds energy

Taurine to regulate heartbeat, muscle contractions and energy levels

Chewing Gum:

Although chewing gum hasn’t been as popular as energy drinks, some studies have been conducted that indicated that the test subjects that chewed gum have been more focused when creating a task, while also having faster reflexes. We have provided a link in our bibliography to a study done by British Psychological Society that demonstrates this theory.


It is a commonly known fact that the human brain relies on water, and often people get dehydrated without even realizing it. Many people drink water to keep themselves awake. Not only does water rehydrate the brain, but for many people it can also decrease anxiety and lead to increased concentration.


The Washington Post" cites research from the University of Cincinnati from the 1990s, which found that the scent of peppermint helped people taking tests to concentrate better. In the study, peppermint helped alertness and focus. A study by Dr. Bryan Raudenbush of Wheeling Jesuit University researched the effects of the smell of peppermint on drivers. This study and previous research performed by Raudenbush indicate that peppermint scent increases a person's alertness, motivation and performance. It also lowers fatigue, anxiety and frustration, helping the person to focus better. Aside from stimulating your alertness, peppermint can stimulate your brain in additional ways. The scent travels to the limbic system in your brain, where it affects your hormones and your moods. The smell of peppermint can boost your mood and uplift you so you feel more refreshed and rejuvenated.


Will stimulants such as water, gum, mints, or energy drinks make a person's reflexes improved compared to no stimulant at all?

Our Stimulants

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Testing method

Our test subjects were 3 females of the ages 16, 17 and 18. We made sure that they were in a quiet, undistracting environment. To perform the experiment, we each...

1) Played the game llama/duck for 2 minutes straight. This was to get us "warmed up" before we recorded any data.

2) Played the game and recorded ourselves without any stimulants for 5 trials.

3) Drank 12 ounces of water

4) Waited a period of 1 minute to digest the water

5) Played the game and recorded results for 5 trials

6) Chewed 1 piece of Trident gum, and recorded the results of playing the game for 5 trials

7) Put in 1 mint and recorded the results of playing the game for 5 trials

8) Waited 5 minutes

9) Drank 12 ounces of Monster Energy

10) Played the game and recorded the results for 5 trials

Collected Data

We had three test subjects and four different stimulants plus the constant of no stimulation. We did five trials of each stimulant to make sure we had a reliable grouping of data. Also, we made sure each test subject took a break after each stimulation to make sure that the previous stimulation they had experienced would not mix with the effects of the proceeding one.
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Data Analysis/Results

What we found was that Energy drinks did have a significant amount of stimulation to have effect on each individual's reflexes while playing the game. This was noticed in person one and two because it was their best record in the game's score. Though in player three's case they had gotten it as second best, but only second to the no stimulant. After that being first the rest of the stimulants kind of had a random amount throughout, for example you will see below each individual's ranking of each stimulation from most points scored to least.

Person 1: Energy-Drink Stimulant, Water Stimulant, No Stimulant, Mint Stimulant, and Gum Stimulant

Person 2: Energy-Drink Stimulant (tied with), Mint Stimulant, Gum Stimulant, Water Stimulant, No Stimulant

Person 3: No Stimulant, Energy-Drink Stimulant, Water Stimulant, Mint Stimulant, Gum Stimulant


Overall, we discovered that energy-drinks had caused a person's reflexes to increase as well as water stimulation being the second best. The energy drink causes one to have more energy but also to be able to move quicker (aka faster reflexes). Water refreshes one's mind before each round and causes one to be more focused.


"What Are the Main Ingredients in Energy Drinks?" LIVESTRONG.COM. Livestrong, 7 May 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

British Psychological Society (BPS). "Chewing gum helps you concentrate for longer, study suggests." ScienceDaily, 8 Mar. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2013

Andrews, Linda W. "Can Sipping Water Make You Smarter?" Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 7 May 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201205/can-sipping-water-make-you-smarter>.

"Does Peppermint Candy Stimulate The Brain? | LIVESTRONG.COM."LIVESTRONG.COM - Lose Weight & Get Fit with Diet, Nutrition & Fitness Tools | LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 May 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/520172-does-peppermint-candy-stimulate-the-brain/>.