It’s true! At least according to a study published in the online journal PLOSone (the Public Library of Science) and titled Getting a Grip on Memory: Unilateral Hand Clenching Alters Episodic Recall.  Researchers Ruth E. Propper, Sean E. McGraw, and Michael Weiss of the Department of Psychology, Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey; and Tad T. Brunyé of the Psychology Department, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts conducted a study to determine if fist clenching could improve memory.

Participants were divided into several groups. One group was given a rubber ball to squeeze with their right hand. Another group squeezed with their left and a final group, the control group had nothing to squeeze.  They were all given a list of words to memorize. When asked to recall the words one group squeezed the ball with their left hand and another group squeezed with their right and of course the control group had nothing to squeeze.

The group most successful at recalling the words was the group that had squeezed with the right on exposure to the words and squeezed with the left on recall of the words. As the authors say, “Unilateral hand clenching increases neuronal activity in the frontal lobe of the contralateral hemisphere. “!

So as you prepare for finals week grab a ball and squeeze. That might be the key to remembering all those dates, formulae, bones or whatever else you are trying to learn.

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