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Small Talk Sharpens Memory

A University of Michigan study being published in the February 2008 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reveals merely talking for ten minutes to another person can improve both memory and test performance.

Through two separate studies investigating the relationship between social interactions and mental functioning, researchers discovered chatting for ten minutes improved mental sharpness and performance just as well as completing a crossword puzzle.

"In our study, socializing was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance," said Oscar Ybarra, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and a lead author of the study with ISR psychologist Eugene Burnstein and psychologist Piotr Winkielman from the University of California, San Diego.

In the first study, researchers examined survey data from a sample of more than 3,500 people ranging from 24 to 96 years old. The survey included both a mental exam assessing knowledge of personal information and current events and a questionnaire soliciting their frequency of conversations with friends and family each week. Upon isolating a wide range of demographic variables, researchers identified a relationship between the amount of social interaction and mental performance levels on the exam. The more frequently people socialized, the higher their cognitive performance - a relationship consistent through all age groups. In the second phase of the study, researchers split 76 college students ages 18 to 21 into three groups: a social interaction group participating in a 10-minute conversation, an intellectual group completing reading comprehension activities and crossword puzzles for 10 minutes, and a control group watching a 10-minute excerpt from "Seinfeld." Upon completion of each group's ten-minute activity, the college students completed a series of tests assessing their mental processing speed and memory capabilities.

Phase two results confirmed that social interaction seemed just as helpful at boosting memory retention and cognitive speed as completing a daily crossword puzzle. Conversely, the findings suggest isolation may have a much more negative impact on a person’s mental capabilities and emotional well-being.

Article: Ten minutes of talking has a mental payoff

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Posted In: Memory |

Tags: Interaction | Memory | Performance | Talking | Test |

Posted by FindCounseling.com Staff on November 01, 2007 at 07:18 AM | Permalink

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This page contains a single entry from Psychology Briefs, the FindCounseling.com Blog.

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