January 2013

Acupuncture May Improve Memory

A recent study suggests that acupuncture may improve memory.

The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, meaning needle, and punctura, meaning prick or perforation. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into specific points along the body as a means to treat disease and relieve pain. The precise mechanism of action of acupuncture remains unknown, although several theories have been proposed.

The new study involved the automated operation span task (AOSPAN), used to test memory. The AOSPAN involves a mental math problem, followed by showing participants a letter of the alphabet. After several math problems, participants must recite all letters in the correct order.

In the study, 90 college students were randomly placed in an acupuncture group or a control group which lay on a table. Acupuncture was performed at specific points to increase mental function and reduce anxiety, for 20 minutes. Following acupuncture, researchers administered the AOSPAN.

Participants in the acupuncture group performed significantly better on the AOSPAN compared to the control group. Furthermore, the acupuncture group had significantly less math errors than the control group.

For more information about acupuncture, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.


  1. Bussell, J. The Effect of Acupuncture on Working Memory and Anxiety. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2012.12.006
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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