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Improve memory, do your chores
October 21st, 2010
04:12 PM ET

Improve memory, do your chores

This week, as we've watched news and trends on brain matters, we've seen some fascinating studies and perspectives about how to bolster memory, make mundane tasks more fun, and improve decision-making. Here's a sampling:

Fonts of remembrance
You may think you like reading in easy-to-read fonts, such as Arial, but it turns out that people remember information better if they have to think about it harder. A study in the journal Cognition by Daniel Oppenheimer at Princeton University shows that, in high school classrooms, students retained material better if they read it in a font that is slightly harder to read, like Monotype Corsiva. This was true for both humanities and science classes. Here's the full scoop from the Economist.

Improve your memory fast
Speaking of memory, here's how to improve your memory in 15 minutes. Time writer John Cloud subjects himself to the same kinds of psychological research he writes about, including a mild form of electroshock therapy.

The key to self-control: Fun
You might be better at doing chores if you change how you think about them. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that when people perceive a task to be fun, they are more likely to exercise self-control about them. TIME's Healthland reports.

And that may play out in the real world among kids who consider learning to be fun. Tomorrow, CNN.com will feature the story of five high-achieving young people and how their parents have helped them view education in a positive light.

Behind the numbers
Harvard researcher Daniel Gilbert, who's spoken to CNN in the past about happiness, had a fascinating opinion piece in the New York Times suggesting that our reliance on certain numbers to make decisions is irrational. Did you know that "$7.22" sounds bigger than "$7.66" because of the vowel sounds in the respective numbers?


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