3. Make a gesture
There are also more leisurely ways to engage your body during learning, as the brain seems to find it easier to learn abstract concepts if they can be related to simple physical sensations. As a result, various experiments have shown that acting out an idea with relevant hand gestures can improve later recall, whether you are studying new vocabulary of a foreign language or memorising the rules of physics.
It may sound dubious, but even simple eye movements might help. Andrew Parker and Neil Dagnall at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, have found that subjects were better able to remember a list of words they had just studied if they repeatedly looked from left to right and back for 30 seconds straight after reading the list – perhaps because it boosts the transfer of information between the two brain hemispheres. It’s worth noting, however, that this only seems to benefit right-handers. Perhaps the brains of left-handed and ambidextrous people already engage in a higher level of cross-talk, and the eye-wiggling only distracts them.
Read Memory: Six Tips to Master Yours in New Scientist.
We can vouch for tip #3. Our “gesture” is note-taking. We find that if we’ve written something down, it’s sealed in the memory. If you have a good memory you don’t have to study for exams, and in the real world your instant access to facts gets you mistaken for an intelligent person.