Dr. Jason Bussell, PhD, conducted an experiment with 90 undergraduate students. Half the students received acupuncture and half did not; and the placebo effect was controlled. Then all the students took a computerized test of Working Memory- the Automated Operation Span Task. Tests of Working Memory have been associated with predicting performance with such diverse abilities as reading comprehension, arithmetic calculation, note taking, language comprehension, playing bridge, learning a computer language, learning to spell, following directions, building vocabulary, writing, complex learning, and reasoning ability. So Working Memory is a good measure of mental aptitude.
Tests of Working Memory assess how well a subject can keep items in the back of their mind (memory) while performing tasks in the front of their mind (processing). Subjects who received acupuncture scored 9.5% higher on the measure of keeping items in memory and committed 36% fewer processing errors. “Considering how competitive school has become, I’m sure this will be of interest to a lot of parents and students”, said Bussell.
To assess anxiety, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was administered before and after the treatment. Subjects who received acupuncture reported significantly less anxiety than those who did not receive it. “This technique may be especially helpful for those students who suffer with test anxiety. But even those who were not anxious still had performance improved by the acupuncture. So this technique can help everyone” explained Bussell.
Research has already shown that a series of treatments can help individuals with impaired memory. This research was innovative in that it is the first study to show that just one acupuncture treatment can improve performance in healthy individuals. The study involved undergraduate students, but it is very likely that this technique can help people of all ages improve their memory and test taking; and reduce their anxiety.
“The Effect of Acupuncture on Working Memory and Anxiety”,
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies – 23 January 2013 (10.1016/j.jams.2012.12.006)