Have you ever closed your eyes when you really tried to remember something? If you have done this you probably increased your chances of remembering what you wanted without even realising it!

In the previous lesson we learnt that we can create a ‘memory palace’ that can help us to remember everything from long sequences of information to your shopping list. However, if you don’t have time to create such a memory palace, or realised in hindsight that you wished you had, there is a simple solution that can still help you retrieve the piece of information that you need from your memory: simply close your eyes.

Research on eyewitness testimonies have found that peoples’ retrieval of key events is significantly more accurate when their eyes are closed, and that closing one’s eyes reduces overconfidence in memory reports [1].

So why is this so effective? Closing your eyes essentially reduces the cognitive load during retrieval. When we try to remember past events there will be a number of distractions surrounding us, such as people around you, your cluttered desk, or whatever is right in front of your eyes at that moment. Closing your eyes effectively removes some of these distractions and allows your mind to focus on remembering instead [2].

Lesson #8 – Close your eyes and try to remember what you did last week. Do you find it easier than trying to remember with your eyes open?

[1] Vredeveldt, A., & Sauer, J. D. (2015). Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4, 51–58.

[2] Vredeveldt, A., Hitch, G. J., & Baddeley, A. D. (2011). Mem. Cogn., 39, 1253–1263.