Need a burst of brain power? Try these 5 memory techniques to recall facts on the fly

By Rachael Schultz
January 16, 2015

Whether it's when you see an old friend on the street, or you're trying recalling last quarter's numbers in a meeting, or you're just telling a story around the dinner table, there's nothing worse than blanking. There are tons of different foods, vitamins, activities that can help keep your memory healthy long term, but sometimes you need immediate satisfaction. For those tip-of-the-tongue moments, try one of these five tricks to boost your memory fast. (Want more? Check out The Best Ways to Pump Up Your Mental Muscles.)

Close Your Eyes


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Shutting your eyes when trying to think boosts memory recall, finds a study released today in the journal Legal and Criminology Psychology. Researchers from the University of Surrey found that eyewitnesses to crimes remember more accurate details-both audio and visual-when they closed their eyes to concentrate.



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A study from Johns Hopkins University found swallowing a certain amount of caffeine-about what you'd find in one or two cups of coffee-boosts a person's memory for new information by roughly 10 percent. How? Well, you know caffeine keeps you awake and sharp, and study co-author Michael Yassa, Ph.D. says it might help ramp up the activity of those brain chemicals involved in memory storage too. (Check out these 10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine.)

Get a Grip


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Try this trick: Clench your right fist before you take in information, and when you want to remember that data, squeeze your left. Sound like an old wives tale? It actually works, says a study published in PLoS One. When participants clenched their right hand for 45 seconds before memorizing words, they recalled the vocab better after squeezing their left than another group who tried squeezing in the opposite order. Weird, but we'll take it!

Smell Sage


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A whiff of sage boosts cognitive performance on memory tests compared to no aroma, reports a study in Human Psychopharmacology. Or try popping an herbal supplement: People who took a sage-filled capsule performed better on memory and attention tasks one hour later, and saw more mental energy and alertness four hours post-ingestion, in a UK study from Northumbria University. Why? The herb may help increase your alertness, helping you hone in and focus on what needs to be done. (Check out The 7 Best Scents for Your Health.)

Grab a Cat Nap


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Take a power nap: After 40 minutes of snoozing, people improved their scores on a memory game by 25 percent compared to those who didn't get to rest, shows German research. While short-term memories are stored in your brain's hippocampus, they aren't engrained yet and easily lost, according to the study authors. Even short amounts of sleep transfers new memories to your brain's neocortex to be permanently stored, improving your ability to recall them, the authors explain.


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