Worried that you’ll lose your memory and your ability to learn new things as you get older? What are you doing about it? A recent study suggests sitting down and closing your eyes for a few minutes, reports MedicalNewsToday.com. The study was published in the journal Psychological Science, and its findings suggest that taking a quick relaxation break after you learn something new can help you improve your short- and long-term memory.

Psychologists and neuroscientists at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland conducted the study by telling two stories to a group of aging men and women, then having them try to remember as many details as they could, reports Laura Blue in an article for Time.com’s Healthland section. The participants would be asked to close their eyes and take a 10-minute "wakeful resting" period in a dark room after one or the other story (which story was varied per participant). For the story after which the participants didn’t get a break, researchers distracted the men and women with a new task.

Results showed that the participants were better able to remember details from the story they were told before getting a rest break.

Says Michaela Dewar, first author of the study, "Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds. Indeed our work demonstrates that activities that we are engaged in for the first few minutes after learning new information really affect how well we remember this information after a week."

But if this is true, it means that this tip applies not only to the elderly, but to everyone. So the next time your child is struggling to study for an exam, you may want to encourage him to take a 10-minute break every so often so he can give his brain time to process what he’s just gone over, rather than having him read himself into information overload. And the next time you have a report to make or review, try and take a short break between documents to let the information percolate in your brain before jumping into your next task.


(Photo by Lotus Caroll via Flickr Creative Commons)

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