3.03.2012

Cognitive Training Helps Those with Memory Deficits
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If you have trouble remembering where your car keys are, new research shows that a memory training strategy can help.

Memory training can even re-engage the hippocampus, part of the brain critical for memory formation, said researchers at Emory University School of Medicine and Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who have been investigating memory-building strategies for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The techniques used in the study were known to be effective for healthy people, but it has been uncertain how they could affect brain function in people with MCI, the researchers note.

“Our results suggest that these strategies can help patients remember specific information, such as the locations of objects,” said lead author Benjamin Hampstead, Ph.D., assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University and a clinical neuropsychologist.

“This is the first randomized controlled trial to show that these techniques are not only effective in MCI patients, but that they can also re-engage the hippocampus, which is a brain region that is critical for forming new memories.”

MCI is a diagnosis meant to identify those at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. People with MCI have difficulty forming new memories but are still able to handle the tasks of daily living. The difficulty learning and remembering new information is because of impaired function in parts of the brain, including the hippocampus, the researchers explain.

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