Summary: The study compares two forms of cognitive training used to help those with mild cognitive impairment improve memory and learning.
source: University of Michigan
What is the best way to improve your memory as you age? A new study suggests it depends. But your fourth grade math teacher may have thought of something with this phrase to help you remember how to solve a complex problem: Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally.
A new study led by researchers from the University of Michigan and Penn State College of Medicine compared two approaches for people with an early form of memory loss.
The two are mnemonic strategy training, which aims to associate what someone is trying to remember with something else such as a word, phrase, or song (such as Dear Aunt Sally mnemonic), and spaced retrieval training, which gradually increases the amount of time between tests to remember something.
People with mild cognitive impairment, which can but not always lead to a later diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, were better able to remember information when using one of these cognitive training methods. However, data and brain scans that revealed which areas of the brain were most active, showed that each activity works differently.
“Our research shows that we can help people with mild cognitive impairment improve the amount of information they learn and remember; President and corresponding author Benjamin Hampstead, PhD, said Hampstead is a professor of psychiatry at Michigan Medicine and Health Care System in Ann Arbor.
He directs the Research Program on Cognition and Neuromodulation-Based Interventions and leads the Clinical Cardiology and co-leads the Center for Neuroimaging at the federally funded Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Michigan.
“Training the memory strategy increased activity in areas of the brain often affected by Alzheimer’s disease, which likely explains why this training method helped participants remember more information and for longer,” Hampstead said.
“In contrast, those who completed the rehearsal-based training showed reduced brain activity, indicating that they were processing information more efficiently.”
Hampstead and his team worked with Krish Satian, MBBS, PhD, professor and chair of the Penn State Department of Neurology and director of the Penn State Neuroscience Institute. Satian noted that cognitive training approaches are likely to become increasingly important in synergy with new drug therapies on the horizon for those with neurodegenerative disorders.
Going forward, Hampstead said researchers and clinicians can use this type of information to help determine the best non-drug treatments for their memory-impaired patients.
Additional authors include Anthony Y Stringer, Ph.D. from Emory University, UM team members Alexandro de Iordan, Ph.D. and Rob Plotz Snyder, Ph.D.
About this memory and cognitive research news
author: Kara Gavin
source: University of Michigan
Contact: Kara Gavin – University of Michigan
picture: The image is in the public domain
original search: Access closed.
“Towards the rational use of cognitive training for those with mild cognitive impairment” by Benjamin Hampstead et al. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Towards the rational use of cognitive training for those with mild cognitive impairment
The term cognitive training includes a group of techniques that have the potential to treat cognitive impairment caused by injury and neurological disease.
our central hypothesis is that these technologies differ in their mechanisms of action and thus involve distinct brain regions (or neural networks).
We support this hypothesis using data from a single-blind randomized controlled trial in which patients with mild cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to either memory strategy training (MST) or spaced retrieval training (SRT) in which they learned environmentally relevant object-location associations.
Both training approaches were very effective in the short term, but the MST showed a clear advantage after days to weeks. MST also increased activation and functional connectivity between the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions in addition to the hippocampus.
In contrast, patterns of low activation and functional connectivity were evident after SRT. These findings support the rational development of cognitive training techniques.
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