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Closed-eye Recall

January 23, 2015

Closing your eyes helps you remember details, whether or not you feel comfortable doing so.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Does shutting your eyes boost your memory? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Closing your eyes can help you remember details of an incident, but closing your eyes in front of stranger could make you uncomfortable, and stress can hurt your memory. Does that stress kill the benefit? Researcher Robert Nash at the University of Surrey in the UK had volunteers watch videos of a crime. Some were then questioned by strangers, others by people with whom they’d become friendly and comfortable. The verdict?

ROBERT NASH (University of Surrey):

We found that when people closed their eyes they were able to answer more of the questions correctly. What we didn’t find though was any effect of rapport on the benefits of eye closure. So closing your eyes helped memory whether you’d built rapport or not. And that wasn’t really what we expected to find.

HIRSHON:

So closing your eyes seems to be a memory booster, even if you’re a bit uncomfortable. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.