A Weird Memory Trick That Really Works

You look in the refrigerator before work and notice you're out of apples. Note to self: Remember to buy apples.

If you really want to remember it, draw a quick picture of an apple.

Drawing pictures of information that needs to be remembered is a strong and reliable strategy to enhance memory, according to researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

The study: Led by Jeffrey Wammes, the team presented student volunteers with a long list of simple, easily drawn words, such as "apple." The students were given 40 seconds to either draw the word or write it out repeatedly. They were then given a filler task of classifying musical tones to facilitate the retention process. Finally, the researchers asked students to freely recall as many words as possible from the initial list in just 60 seconds.

The results: There was a significant recall advantage for words that were drawn, compared with those that were written. Specifically, the students could recall twice as many drawn words as written words.

The Waterloo team named this "the drawing effect."

Why does drawing work to jog our memories? "Drawing helps to create a more cohesive memory trace that better integrates visual, motor and semantic information," says Wammes.

Note this: The quality of the drawings did not matter. Artistic talent is not a requirement!

The study findings were published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

--From the Editors at Netscape

News, Photo and Web Search