Curiosity and creativity enhance our memory

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Whether you’re into painting, sculpting, or creating bead necklaces, there are tons of ways to improve your memory with arts and crafts.

Curious cats might get into all sorts of mischief, but according to a new study, curious humans are better able to remember information. And, if your curiosity leads to creativity with arts and crafts, you can reduce your chances of developing memory loss diseases later in life.

What exactly are memories and how do they stay in your head? Well, there are billions of cells in our brains called neurons, which connect to one another. Learning something new strengthens these connections, thus creating a stored memory, and while short-term memory can hold a small amount of information for a short time, long-term memory remembers just about everything.

When researchers analyzed brain scans of people who were shown trivia questions, the participants remembered information better when a question sparked their curiosity. See, curiosity activates parts of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, releasing chemicals that enhance thinking and memory formation.

If you’re not a trivia person, then break out the crayons and Play-Doh. Researchers found that people who keep their creative juices flowing with painting, drawing, sculpting, and knitting are less likely to develop memory loss diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. These tragic conditions are more likely to develop in people ages 65 and older, affecting short-term memory, long-term memory, and emotional well-being. So, if you’ve tied a colorful string around your finger before to remember an important task, it might be a better idea to get a whole bunch of colorful strings, glue, scissors, and sparkles for an art project!

Featured image courtesy of Shannon Kringen on Flickr. Image of kid’s painting courtesy of Jeff Newfeld on Flickr.