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Published on: March 4, 2012
by Shambhu Agrawal for Health Enclave
Wonder where you kept your car keys? Or where you left your cell phone lying in your apartment? Good news is you can train your brain to remember these things more effectively.
New research published in the online journal Hippocampus suggests a memory training strategy can help people function better in their daily life by better remembering small details. The training works by re-engaging the Hippocampus, part of the brain that forms new memory.
This is good news particularly for people with Mild-Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine along with Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center were involved in devising training programs for MCI patients for a long time now. Though their techniques in this particular study are nothing new and are already known to benefit healthy people, no study before ascertained their validity in case of people with MCI.
MCI generally prevents people from forming new memories. This is caused due to dysfunction of some parts of the brain that is responsible for learning and remembering. However it doesn’t affect their daily tasks. MCI is used to diagnose people with increased risks of Alzheimer.
Lead researcher Benjamin Hampstead claims the strategies developed by the research team are instrumental in helping people remember particular information. These include dates and location of objects.
This is the first study that shows these memory training techniques can re-engage part of the brain that forms and stores new memories even in MCI patients.
The study trained participants to remember the location of common household objects such as car keys, remote controls, utensils, etc. in four training sessions. In each session, the participants were shown digital pictures of household objects and their corresponding location on the computer. They were then given three locations for each object and were asked to choose the correct option.
When the participants returned to the lab for the fifth time, they were evaluated against another control group who weren’t given any training. Both healthy and MCI patients who received training benefited from the trials.
MCI patients initially showed less brain activity. Functional MRI showed an increased in hippocampus activity as the trials progressed.
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