This Memory Hack Could Help People Retain More Information Than They Think They Could

First Posted: Jan 23, 2017 05:08 AM EST

While students explore different tactics in studying before an exam -- from word repetition, index card notes to eating memory-enriching food -- a team of researchers may have just discovered the most effective way to retain what they have learned.

Medical Daily reported that researchers at Baylor University just found a strategic method that actually works for students: sharing what they have learned. While others record their teacher's discussion to be replayed for review, telling someone what they have studied could be a better way to recall their learning.

According to researchers, the brain tends to prioritize "rewarding" memories such as social activities and intimate interactions than those that do not seem beneficial. This makes a conversational study more likely to be remembered than going through their notes alone.

To come up with this conclusion, the researchers grouped 60 participants with an average age of 21 in three clusters. The participants watched 24-second clips from 40 obscure foreign films that depicted regular daily activities such as family dinners and kids playing at the park. Some students were then asked to recall some of the scenes several minutes after the showing, while others were asked seven days after.

As expected, the longer the delay, the less of the film's details were remembered. The first group that was not warned that it was about to be asked forgot the perceptual or the "peripheral" details of the clips, while those who were cued were able to recall some of the perceptual facts. Although the second group did better in the peripheral details, their retained central information from the film was almost as vague as the first group.

Meanwhile, the third group, which was asked to share what the members have watched to somebody, was able to recall both the central and peripheral details better despite of longer delays.

"A week later, the memory was just as good," said study's lead author Melanie Sekeres in a statement. "Telling someone else about what you've learned is a really effective way for students to study instead of just re-reading the textbook or class notes."

This study was published in the journal Learning and Memory.

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