Max Out Your Brain’s Performance with Distractions

Max Out Your Brain’s Performance with Distractions
Next time you need to quickly memorise a small piece of information, Wired suggests that you may actually have better luck retaining the information if you distract yourself.

In 2007, researchers asked UCLA students to try to memorize a set of 48 word pairs (country: Russia, fruit: lemon, flower: lily, etc.). After studying the list, some students then had to sit through a slide show and view closely related material (flower: rose). Guess what? The distracted students performed better on subsequent recall tests.

Photo by Gaetan Lee.

According to the article, studying slightly different subjects from the one you want to learn makes your brain work harder to store the original information. Clearly this doesn’t work with just any distraction—for example, this doesn’t mean you’ve finally got validation for watching TV while studying—but it could prove effective if you structure your distractions correctly. The distraction method is just one of 12 hacks intended to enhance your brainpower, among which includes our recently-posted tip on optimal caffeine use. If you’ve got a favourite brain hack of your own or want to share your experience with Wired’s list of brain hacks, let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.


  • I can’t remember how I came onto it, but way back when I did High School debating I used to practise speeches in front of a television with the volume up. It’s really good for sharpening concentration. (works well for rehearsing lines, too)

Log in to comment on this story!