We often find ourselves clenching our fists and banging them in frustration when a simple piece of information eludes us.
But now scientists believe this simple process may have some merit in helping us to remember and recall information later on.
According to a study by US psychologists, published in PLOS One, clenching the right hand for more than a minute can help in memory formation, while the same action in the left hand can improve memory recall.
Why is that? Because, as past research has shown, clenching either fist has the ability to activate the opposite corresponding side of your brain.
In other words, clenching the right hand helps to activate the left hemisphere of the brain while the left hand activates the right hemisphere.
Interestingly, this phenomenon has also been associated with emotions; right hand clenching with happiness or anger and clenching of the left with sadness and anxiety.
The study’s researchers from Montclair State University in New Jersey believe their research suggests simple body movement can improve our memory by temporarily changing the way our brain works.
An experiment of 50 adults found the participants who performed these simple hand-clenching movements were able to remember and recall a long list of words better than their un-clenching counterparts.
Both the left and right hemispheres of the brain are believed to play an important role in memory processing. The left side helps to encode information and the right assists in retrieving them.
While more research needs to be done to ascertain the specific effects fist clenching has for memory, scientists hope it will also help to enhance mental processes like verbal or spatial abilities, memory of pictures and places and words.
If you’re not convinced this simple body movement is enough to help boost your memory, you could also try supplementing the activity with rosemary oil. The scent was recently discovered to assist memory function in healthy adults in a British study.
But, if all else fails, we have found that writing the information down on your hand is always a failsafe way to remember… a lot less inventive though!