Walking Backwards May Improve Short-Term Memory

November 20, 2018

walking-backwards-short-term-memory.jpg

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!

  • Doog

    So walking backwards while smoking marijuana will negate the effects marijuana has on short-term memory?

    I know some people who will find this useful.

  • Wooder

    Yes it will improve short term memory but shorten your life when you walk into traffic. But you're smarter until your head hits the windshield.

  • Bling Nye

    Until they go to peer-review and have to walk back their claims.

  • Tigerh8r

    I'm not sure if that joke is brilliant or horrible so I'll give you (+ & -) 100 upvotes!

  • Bling Nye
  • Bosun Higgs

    Did they cite that lousy movie Memento as one of their sources?

  • GeneralDisorder

    Lousy? Hmmm... I gotta go rewatch. I remember that movie being kinda fun.

  • Bosun Higgs

    Gimmicky and tedious.

  • Tigerh8r

    The "Walking backwards improves short term memory" joke sort of writes itself, but seriously, walking forwards is more or less an automatic function for most of us, but deliberately walking backwards causes yo uto use your brain in a different way, which probably makes you better at memory or puzzles for a short period. There have been other studies that show intentionally using your brain differently has short term advantages.

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