As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: January 4, 2019
Older adults have been found to be just as adept as younger people when it comes to recalling new information, as long as they draw what they’re trying to remember.
That was the finding of a recent Canadian study, which supports previous research showing that drawing aids memory better than writing notes or than picturing something in your mind or looking at related images. Researchers say rendering images on paper incorporates multiple ways of representing the information — with visual, spatial, verbal, semantic and motor skills.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo conducted a series of tests on 24 undergraduate students and 24 adults over the age of 65 who had normal cognition.
For both seniors and younger people, drawing has a “surprisingly powerful influence” on memory, they concluded, in a paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Participants were each shown 30 words, all of them nouns that could be easily drawn. They were then told whether to draw or to write each word, within a 40-second limit. Of the 30 words studied, 15 were randomly selected to be drawn and 15 written.
Between the words and the memory test, they listened to tones for a couple of minutes to disrupt memory processing.
In the next phase of the experiment, participants were given two minutes to recall as many of the words as they could.
Both groups showed better memory retention when they used drawing rather than writing to encode the new information, recalling roughly twice the number of words they drew, compared to those they wrote. Furthermore, both young and older participants had a similar level of retention if only the drawn words recalled were considered.
Seniors performed worse with words
However, more words were recalled by the younger adults than the seniors. Previous studies have indicated this is because younger adults are more likely to spontaneously engage in imagery-based encoding strategies to remember words.
Melissa Meade, PhD candidate in cognitive neuroscience at University of Waterloo, conducted the study along with Myra Fernandes, a psychology professor in cognitive neuroscience, and Jeffrey Wammes, a recent PhD graduate from the university.
“The fact that we didn’t see a difference between older and younger adults when they drew in that sort of memory, that was perhaps the most surprising thing for me,” Meade told CBC.
“Even if their drawings were virtually incomprehensible, they’re still showing this [drawing] effect, and that’s pretty exciting,” said Dr. Susan Vandermorris, a neuropsychologist at Baycrest Centre, a Toronto hospital specializing in senior care and healthy aging.
Diane Robson volunteers as an art teacher at Baycrest — and at age 72, she’s also a senior citizen.
She said the study gives her added motivation to get seniors drawing this year.
“I might try it to see if it’s easier to remember,” Robson said.
“It’s a big effect and it’s so simple. We will figure out how to apply it,” Vandermorris said.
The researchers say even four-second drawing can help people recall a word, and they believe the technique could be useful for people with dementia.
USC researchers have discovered a secret sauce in the brain’s vascular system that preserves the neurons needed to keep dementia and other diseases at bay. The finding, in a mouse model of the human...
Ask anyone what worries them most about getting older, and more than a few people will say losing the ability to remember things is high up on their list. After a lifetime of making memories and forging...
A study out of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom found that there is a link between dementia and certain classes of anticholinergic drugs. The drugs, particularly antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinics, antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs,...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.