It’s no secret that new experiences can improve memory recall. After all, we tend to remember the first time that we did just about anything. Similarly, research suggests that taking a new route home may have a beneficial effect on your memory. Learn more about how new experiences improve memory.
Why New Experiences Improve Memory
As we go about our daily lives, our brains decide all the time which information to retain and which to discard. Taking the same route home every day doesn’t usually bring the brain any new information – it’s always the same stops, the same shops, the same faces.
A 2016 study at the University of Edinburgh found that new experiences help with the formation of new memories. When something catches our attention, our brains release dopamine to the part of the brain that governs the formation of memories, the hippocampus.
According to another 2016 study, this one from the University of Texas, unpredictability also improves memory recall. The episodic memory of forty-six adults was tested before and after memory training. The subjects who were given unpredictable memory training showed improved recalls.
The Benefits of Taking a New Route Home
When you take a new route home, you activate your brain’s ability to consolidate short-term memories into long-term ones. That means that you could remember more easily not only the things you experienced on your route but also the things that happened earlier in the day.
For example, if you studied in the morning, taking a new route could help you recall your lessons more readily, according to NIH senior investigator R. Douglas Fields.
New Routes, Better Memory
Taking a different route home is a simple memory improvement trick you should try. And remember that in general, new experiences improve memory. While doing new things is great, you could see memory benefits even by doing familiar things in different ways, like taking new routes to everyday places.