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Health & Medicine Make a Fist: Clenching Your Hand Can Improve Memory of Events

Make a Fist: Clenching Your Hand Can Improve Memory of Events

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First Posted: Apr 25, 2013 12:57 PM EDT
Fist Bumping Much Better Than Handshakes For Health
Fist Bumping Much Better Than Handshakes For Health (Photo : Flickr/Walt Stoneburner)

Want to remember something? Need help cramming for that spelling test or biology final? Apparently all you need to do is make a fist. New research reveals that clenching your right hand can help you form a stronger memory of an event or action and allow you to recall the memory later.

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The new study, which was published in the journal PLOS One, used a group of participants that were split into groups. These five different groups were first asked to memorize and then recall words from a list of 72 different words. One group was asked to clench their right fist for about 90 seconds prior to memorizing the list and then to do so prior to recollecting the words. Another group was asked to clench their left hand prior to both memorizing and recollecting. The third and fourth groups were asked to clench opposite hands when memorizing and recollecting, and the fifth group was a control group that didn't clench their hands.

So what did the researchers find? It turns out that physical movements can actually help people recollect words. The group that clenched their right hand when memorizing the list and then clenched the left while recalling the words actually performed the best.

"The findings suggest that some simple body movements--by temporarily changing the way the brain functions--can improve memory," said Ruth Propper, the lead researcher of the study, in a news release. "Future research will examine whether hand clenching can also improve other forms of cognition, for example verbal or spatial abilities."

Currently, further research needs to be conducted to see whether these results also extend to memories of visual stimuli--like remembering a face. However, it does reveal how the physical and mental are interconnected. Don't you wish you knew this when you were preparing for spelling tests?

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