Unless you’re one of the 60 people with the rare condition that gives you a perfect memory, your brain probably needs the occasional boost. But when it comes to building an impressive recall, forget hitting the books—and hit the trail instead. At least, that’s according to a new study, which found that spending time in nature could improve your memory.
To study how the brain responds to time spent in nature, David Strayer, cognitive psychologist and professor of neuroscience at the University of Utah, and graduate assistant Rachel Hopman gave students simple tests like counting backward by threes. Then, the students spent 30 minutes outdoors and repeated the tests once they returned. In addition to comparing the students’ test scores, the researchers also used EEG caps to measure their neural activity throughout the experiment.
The final data showed that students performed significantly better on their post-nature tests than on those completed prior to being outside. You can improve your retention by borrowing these habits of people with an impressive memory, too.
But what’s nature got to do with it? Strayer believes that the prefrontal cortex, or the part of your brain reserved for decision-making and problem solving, becomes fatigued from our day-to-day activities. Spending time in nature relieves some of that stress, allowing the brain to recover. And according to Strayer, that restoration process can boost memory by up to 20 percent, whereas creativity goes up by as much as 50 percent. All the more reason to start lacing up your hiking boots.
No nature nearby? No problem. You can always train like a memory champion with these pro tricks to getting a superhuman memory.