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To get better at math, gorge on chocolate

Scientists at Northumbria University in England are suggesting that chocolate, and especially the dark variant, helps people perform math and other mentally demanding tasks.

You can count on a chocoholic.

At least that seems to be the conclusion of a heartily interesting piece of research performed at Northumbria University in England.

The researchers, led by Professor David Kennedy, got hold of 30 people and asked them to count backwards in groups of three from various numbers between 800 and 999.

At some point during the research, they were drugged. No, not like that. Well, not totally. They were given a mysterious cocoa drink, full of flavanol, one of the happier constituents of chocolate.

This little concoction seemed to turn Frankensteins into Einsteins. Of course, I exaggerate. It's Friday afternoon.

Look. Those crafty souls at Google already knew about the hidden powers of the dark substance. CC Idealisms

But the effects of the drink were clearly felt in the volunteers' mathematical performance. Astoundingly, they also got less tired, so they were capable of doing the same calculation over and over again--which should help enormously, should any of them want to get a job at certain companies in the Valley.

I should point out that the researchers did give their guinea pigs a lot of flavanol: 500 milligrams. This is more than they might normally expect to get from a bar of chocolate or fruits and vegetables that also enjoy the chemical's presence.

And there was a little hitch along the way.

While the drink helped them count backwards in groups of three, when it came to counting in groups of seven, a more complex task that happens in a different part of your gray matter, the respondents might just as well have reached for a roach and a bottle of Smirnoff. Yes, the guinea pork had suddenly mislaid their mathematical chops.

Still, we know that most exams aren't too complex. So it's good to know that a few shots of Hersheys, washed down with eight or nine McDonald's chocolate milkshakes, should propel the average student to the brink of a professorship.