In this study, the researchers hypothesized that an unexpected big win in the game will make them remember pictures better, as it is known that dopamine levels rise the most in the presence of unexpected results. The more surprising and thrilling the victory, the believed, the more likely a person should be able to remember something.
To test how well the participants remembered the pictures, they asked almost 300 participants to select the pictures secretly associated with a reward from a selection of similar pictures. They tested them twice, first 5 minutes after the game, and then once more 24 hours later to see if the memories were lasting.
The study found that, indeed, the participants managed to form more vivid memories when they’ve seen an unexpected good outcome, and the higher the risk of failure, the more likely were the participants to remember. The researchers believe that this game can train the players’ memory and make it better long term, and they plan to test if people with mental or physical conditions associated with low production of dopamine will behave the same way healthy participants do.
In the meantime, it might be useful for you to know that you don’t have to actually play this specific game to improve your memory. Any unexpected positive reward, like finding a new favorite coffee shop, accidentally stumbling upon a friend while grocery shopping, or even winning in a card game you just learned will all improve your memory and make you remember seemingly ordinary events more vividly and fondly.
Most definitely, this research motivates us to try new things, visit new places and surprise yourself and others more often. What a beautiful and inspiring message, don’t you agree?