Make a fist with your right hand before you learn something new. Clench your left hand when you have to recall it later.

Sound a little nutty? Not to the Army.

In a study funded by the U.S. Army, subjects were presented with a series of words to memorize. Afterwards, participants were given a pencil and paper and asked to write down every word they could remember.

The subjects were divided into five groups.

Four groups were prompted to squeeze either their left or right hand for 90 seconds before memorizing the list. They received similar instructions just before their recall was tested.

The fifth group – the control group – received no instructions.

The right-then-left group scored significantly higher on the memory test than the others.

Clenching the right hand, researchers explained, activates the brain’s left hemisphere – associated with encoding – and the left hand activates the right hemisphere – the area associated with recall.

Try it with your learners in your next training session and see if it works for you.

Source: Propper, R.E., et al. (2013). Getting a grip on memory: Unilateral hand clenching alters episodic recall. PLoS ONE, 8(4): e62474. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062474

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