Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Make-a-Fist and Memory Recall

Making a fist may help prevent performance choking but is there any evidence it can help with memory? The result of a study led by Ruth Propper of Montclair State University in New Jersey and published in the journal PLoS One, suggest that some simple body movements can improve memory by temporarily changing the way the brain functions. Clenching your right fist before remembering information and your left when you want to remember it can boost your recall. This strange strategy may work because clenching your hands activates the side of the brain that handles the function. In right-handed people, for example, the left side of the brain is primarily responsible for encoding information, while the right hemisphere is primarily responsible for recalling memory. (If you are left-handed, the opposite may apply but this is as yet unclear.) Propper and colleagues studied 50 right-handed college students, mainly women. They were given a list of 36 words to remember and a small pink ball to clench. One group squeezed the ball twice for 45 seconds each time with their right hands before memorizing the words, then did the same with their left hands before writing down as many words as they could recall. Another group performed the same task but reversed the order of the fists they made. The group that started with the right hand and activated the left hemisphere, which helps encode memory, and then clenched their left hand and activated the right hemisphere during recall, performed the best on the memory test. They recalled an average of 10 words if they clenched their right hand for encoding and left for recall, which was four more than those who used the opposite clenching pattern. You might want to experiment with this . . .

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