Walking Backwards May Improve Short-Term Memory

November 20, 2018

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Above: 'Mr. Elastic', kind of related but mostly just hard to look at.

According to a recent study, walking backwards may improve short-term memory. In the study, 114 participants were asked to watch a short video about a woman who had her purse stolen. Then they were asked to walk backwards or forwards for 10 meters, or stand still. Afterwards they were asked twenty questions about what they remember from the video, and the backwards walkers averaged two more correct answers than the other groups. How about that!

Experts from the University of Roehampton discovered a similar effect in five variations of the experiment.


One of them involved a similar procedure but tested how many words the volunteers could remember from a list.

In others, participants simply imagined moving forwards or backwards, or watched a video filmed on a train, which created the impression of moving forwards or backwards.

In all scenarios, the backwards group or those who imagined walking backwards got the most answers right.

The team deemed this as a statistically significant experiment and an indication that a link between the concepts of 'time' and 'space' is essential to the way our minds form memories.

Fascinating. Of course not only does walking backwards potentially improve your short-term memory, it also improves your chances of walking into an open manhole or into traffic, so it's probably a technique best only used briefly around your anniversary.

Thanks to Thaylor H, who agrees sprinting backwards should allow a person to remember things they've forgotten. My keys -- I know where they are!

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