Taking a Break Improves Your Memory

The evidence is starting to mount up that says there are both physical and memory benefits to taking a coffee break throughout the day, it can do wonders for your memory.

According to a study published in Neuron and conducted at the Center for Neural Science at New York University, “A coffee break after an important meeting or class may be just the thing your brain needs to digest new information and improve memory.” (Note: a coffee break does not necessarily mean you have to have coffee, although there have been studies to indicate coffee is good brain food.)

“Taking a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that information you just learned,” researcher Lila Davachi, PhD, assistant professor of psychology said in a news release. “Your brain wants you to tune out other tasks so you can tune in to what you just learned.”

The study found that two important brain areas, the hippocampus and the neocortex, that are involved in memory and processing of information increases when breaks are taken after a learning task. They call this a “wakeful rest.” The increase in activity seems to also improve memory.

Just as your brain works when you are asleep to process the information you learned throughout the day – moving it to long-term memory or discard it, taking a break in the middle of a day allows your brain to perform at its optimum level. “Your brain is working for you when you’re resting, so rest is important for memory and cognitive function,” Davachi says. “This is something we don’t appreciate much, especially when today’s information technologies keep us working around the clock.”

Sixteen adults were shown pairs of images followed by breaks. None of the subjects were told that they would be tested later, but they were told to relax and think about whatever they wanted during their rest period. Researchers, in the meantime, measured their brain activity before, during and after the tests with the use of a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI).

They found an increase in brain activity between the hippocampus and neocortex during the showing of the images, and during the rest period. They also performed better on memory tests than those who did not rest. This indicates that “wakeful rest” periods, such as those used for a coffee break or meditation, can improve memory.

My name is Ron White, and I am a memory-training expert, memory keynote speaker, and two-time USA Memory Champion.   We have found evidence that your brain is working while you sleep to form memories. Taking a wakeful rest seems to do the same thing.

Memory Training


WebMD — Coffee Break Boosts Memory: http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20100127/coffee-break-boosts-memory


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