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

focused on how well participants could remember the locations of common household objects. The memory-building strategy involves three steps. First, participants focused on a feature of the room that stood out and was close to the object, then they learned a short explanation for why the object was in that location. Finally, they created a mental picture to tie the information together.

In several sessions, study participants were shown household objects one at a time, each object followed by its location in a computer-simulated room. An hour later, they were asked to identify the location of each object from among three choices.

After the first visit, participants returned to the laboratory for three training sessions. On a fifth visit two weeks later, they were evaluated on how well they could remember the objects' locations. A control group received the same amount of exposure to the objects and their locations, but was not given explicit training.

As expected, at the start of the study MCI patients had more difficulty remembering where objects were and showed less brain activity in the hippocampus (measured through functional magnetic resonance imaging) when compared with healthy people.

Both people with MCI and healthy controls benefitted significantly more from using memory strategies than from mere exposure. In addition, MCI patients in the memory strategy-training group showed increased activity in the hippocampus as they learned and remembered the location of the objects. Participants in the training group showed increases in hippocampal activity, even when trying to remember the locations of new objects.

"This is an initial, albeit encouraging, step in determining methods that can help these patients function better in their everyday lives," says Stringer, who originally developed the strategies on which training in this study was based.

"These techniques may hold particular promise given that they app
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Contact: Lance Skelly
lance.skelly@emoryhealthcare.org
404-686-8538
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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