For the study, published this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers showed individuals with memory loss clips of happy and sad movies. Although the participants couldn't recall what they had watched, they retained the emotions elicited by the clips.
Justin Feinstein, lead study author and a UI doctoral student in clinical neuropsychology, says the discovery has direct implications for Alzheimer's disease.
"A simple visit or phone call from family members might have a lingering positive influence on a patient's happiness even though the patient may quickly forget the visit or phone call," Feinstein said. "On the other hand, routine neglect from staff at nursing homes may leave the patient feeling sad, frustrated and lonely even though the patient can't remember why."
Feinstein conducted the study with UI neuroscience faculty members Daniel Tranel, Ph.D., UI professor of neurology and psychology, and Melissa Duff, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders.
The researchers studied five rare neurological patients with damage to their hippocampus, a part of the brain that's critical for transferring short-term memories into long-term storage. Damage to the hippocampus prevents new memories from being acquired.
This same type of amnesia is an early sign of Alzheimer's disease.
The experiment started with an emotion-induction technique using powerful film clips. Each amnesic patient viewed 20 minutes of either sad or happy movies on separate days. The movies triggered the appropriate emotion, ranging from intense bouts of laughter during happy films to tears of sorrow during sad ones.
About 10 minutes after the clip ended, researchers gave patients a memory test to see if they could recall what they had watched. As expected, the patients were extremely impaired. A healthy person recalls about 30 details from each clip, but one patient couldn't recall a single detail.
After the memory test, patients answered questions to gauge their emotions.
"Indeed, they still felt the emotion. Sadness tended to last a bit longer than happiness, but both emotions lasted well beyond their memory of the films," Feinstein said. "With healthy people, you see feelings decay as time goes on. In two patients, the feelings didn't decay; in fact, their sadness lingered."
These findings challenge the popular notion that erasing a painful memory can abolish psychological suffering. They also reinforce the importance of attending to the emotional needs of people with Alzheimer's, which is expected to affect as many as 100 million people worldwide by 2050.
"Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's, and there's currently no cure," Feinstein said. "What we're about to face is an epidemic. We're going to have more and more baby boomers getting older, and more and more people with Alzheimer's disease. The burden of care for these individuals is enormous.
"What this research suggests is that we need to start setting a scientifically informed standard of care for patients with memory disorders. Here is clear evidence showing that the reasons for treating Alzheimer's patients with respect and dignity go beyond simple human morals."
The study was funded by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Kiwanis International Foundation.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Graduate College Office of External Relations, 205 Gilmore Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
John Riehl | Newswise Science News
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News