By: Chris V. Thangham
English researchers say if you want a quick memory fix, just move your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds. These horizontal eye movements cause the two hemispheres of the brain to interact with each other and improve memory.
Andrew Parker and his colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan University in England wanted to know whether eye movements might also help people recognize words they have just seen. There were studies done earlier that showed horizontal eye movements helped people recall specific words they have just seen.
Recognition memory is different from recall memory, as people recognize words but tend to make errors (referred to as "source monitoring errors"). They recall words correctly, but attribute them to the wrong source.
Parker and his colleagues wanted to see whether horizontal eye movements could improve the recognition memory or reduce source monitoring errors.
They studied 102 college students with recordings of a male voice reading aloud 20 lists of 15 words. Some of these lists focused on certain words like thread, eye, sewing, sharp etc. but the “lure” word "needle" was not included in the list.
After the lists were read, one third of the students were subjected to horizontal side to side eye movement in a computer screen for 30 seconds, the second third were given a vertical up to down eye movement and the final third of the students did nothing after the lists were read.
The subjects were handed down a list of words and were asked to pick out the ones they just heard. As LiveScience reports:
"The researchers found that the people who performed the horizontal eye movements correctly remembered, on average, more than 10 percent more words, and falsely recognized about 15 percent fewer “lure” words than the people who performed vertical eye movements or no movements at all."
Stephen Christman, a psychologist at the University of Toledo said this study shows movements could be helping identify the true source of memories.
Christman had done previous studies on side-to-side eye movements and his conclusions were the same: it helps people recall more words. He found the leftward eye movement activated the right brain hemisphere, while the rightward movement activated the left brain hemisphere. He concluded that horizontal eye movement helps improve memory by helping the brain hemispheres interact.
Christman said he has received plenty of letters from people wondering whether horizontal eye movements could help them in their everyday lives, like remembering where you parked your car. He is not sure about it, but give it a try.
I just have to remember doing this horizontal eye-to-eye movement when I have to remember something. There is a yoga mudra, Hakini Mudra you can also try in order to improve your memory.