Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rote learning improves memory in older adults

14.12.2006
New research from University College Dublin and NUI Maynooth shows

Memory loss – it can be as trivial as misplacing the car keys but, as we get older, we all experience lapses more frequently and find it more difficult to learn new things.

Some 40% of people over 60 years of age have some kind of memory difficulty. Mild, age-related memory loss is caused by the loss of brain cells over time, along with changes in brain chemistry.

Now, researchers in Ireland have discovered that taking memory exercises – in the form of rote learning of poems, articles or other materials can help combat memory loss.

So, along with a brisk walk by the sea or that stretch and sculpt class in the gym, older adults would do well to dust off that old copy of J Alfred Prufrock and exercise the mind, along with the body.

Their research, funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) Research Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), studied how repeated cognitive exercise impacts memory and recall, as well as on the health of brain cells involved in memory.

Jonathan McNulty, Diagnostic Imaging, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, has managed to identify changes in brain chemistry that show improvements in memory and verbal recall among volunteers who took part in the research.

The volunteers were 24 healthy older adults aged between 55 and 70. They underwent six weeks of intensive rote learning, memorising a newspaper article or poem of 500 words, followed by six weeks of rest.

“We didn’t see an immediate improvement after the intensive memorization period. But following a six-week rest period, the volunteers manifested both metabolic changes in the brain and improved memory performance,” explains Jonathan McNulty.

An extensive battery of learning and memory tests was administered before and after the six-week learning period. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), a special type of diagnostic imaging, was performed on half of the volunteers before and after the intensive learning session, and again six weeks later. MRS was used to measure changes in N-acetylaspartate, creatine and choline, three metabolites in the brain that are related to memory performance and neural cell health. The scans took place at Beaumont Hospital and the memory tests were conducted in Trinity College Dublin.

At the end of the six-week learning session, no changes in the brain metabolism or memory performance were observed. But following the rest period, all of the volunteers experienced improvements in their verbal and episodic memory—they were better able to remember and repeat a short story and a list of words and to recall events that occurred earlier in the day or week. These behavioural changes correlated with metabolic changes identified by MRS in the left posterior hippocampus, a memory-related brain structure.

“Unlike other studies on memory involving specific training regimes, memorizing is an everyday activity that anyone can undertake,” said co-author Dr Richard Roche from the Department of Psychology at National University of Ireland in Maynooth. “The brain is like a muscle that should be exercised through the retirement years as a defence against dementia, cognitive lapses and memory failure.”

The research findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago this November. They are expected to spark interest among others working in the area throughout the world.

Co-authors of the report include: P Brennan, C Doherty, D McMackin, S Sukumaran, IH Robertson, MA Mangaoang, SM O’Mara, S Mullally, J Hayden, J Prendergast, and M Fitzsimons.

Emma Kavanagh | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ucd.ie

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

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....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

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...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>