Effects of Peppermint Scent Administration on Cognitive Video Game Performance

McCombs, Kristin; Raudenbush, Bryan; Bova, Andrea; Sappington, Mark
December 2011
North American Journal of Psychology;2011, Vol. 13 Issue 3, p383
Academic Journal
Past research suggests the positive effects of both video game play and the benefits of peppermint scent administration. The present study assessed the combination of video game play and peppermint scent administration on physiology, mood, game performance, and task load. Participants completed a control condition with no scent administration to serve as a baseline, and were then assigned to either repeat the control condition or to complete an experimental condition in which peppermint scent was delivered via nasal cannula at 3 LPM. Participants played 3 Nintendo Wii Fit Plus games requiring cognitive and hand/eye reactions (Perfect 10, Snowball Fight, and Obstacle Course). Participants in the peppermint scent condition 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. Control group participants had a significantly lower pulse change and diastolic blood pressure change, whereas, participants in the peppermint scent condition experienced no significant difference in pulse suggesting that the scent administration promoted greater physiological arousal, thus keeping them engaged in the testing process. Implications include the combination of video games and a physiologically arousing scent (specifically, peppermint) to further promote cognitive performance.


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