Clenching Fists and Improved Memory


Adaptation of photograph by Brady Tulk, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Copyright © 2010 Brady Tulk.

Tiara Chakkaw, Associate Editor - Features and Extras

Usually when we clench our fists, we do it out of anger or during celebration, but who would have known that it helps boost memory? Clenching your fists temporarily changes the brain function as discovered by an experiment conducted by researchers at Montclair State University. They believe that clenching your fists activates certain brain regions that are associated with memory processing.

The experiment consisted of 50 right-handed adults who were then divided into five groups. One group clenched their right fist for about 90 seconds before memorizing a list of words, then proceeded to clench their right fist again afterwards. The second group did the same procedures but instead used their left fist. The third group was a control group that did not clench their fists at all. The two remaining groups clenched one hand prior to learning the words (either the left or right hand) and the opposite hand prior to recollecting.

The results showed that those who clenched their right fist for 90 seconds prior to memorizing the words and then proceeded to clench their left fist for another 90 seconds immediately afterwards performed better at memorization than those who did not clench their fists at all. U.S. psychologists further elaborated, reporting that clenching the right hand helps in memory formation, while clenching the left hand improves memory recall.

Future research is to be done to examine whether fist clenching will also improve other mental processes such as verbal abilities, memory of pictures and places, as well as words. However, more research is planned to be conducted in various subjects to confirm these results of fist clenching improving memory.