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Training can improve memory and increase brain activity in mild cognitive impairment
Date:3/1/2012

If someone has trouble remembering where the car keys or the cheese grater 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, the results suggest.

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine and Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center have been investigating memory-building strategies for people with MCI (mild cognitive impairment). 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 results are published online in the journal Hippocampus.

"Our results suggest that these strategies can help patients remember specific information, such as the locations of objects, " says lead author Benjamin Hampstead, PhD, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "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."

Hampstead is a clinical neuropsychologist at the Atlanta VA Rehabilitation, Research and Development Center of Excellence. Study co-authors included Krish Sathian, MD, PhD, professor of neurology, rehabilitation medicine, and psychology, and director of the Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence at the Atlanta VAMC; and Anthony Stringer, PhD, professor of rehabilitation medicine and psychology.

MCI is a diagnosis meant to identify those at increased risk of eventually converting to Alzheimer's disease. People with MCI have difficulty forming new memories but are still able to handle 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 study
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Contact: Lance Skelly
lance.skelly@emoryhealthcare.org
404-686-8538
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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