Emory study helps boost memory in senior citizens

Emory study helps boost memory in senior citizens

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ATLANTA -

As we get older, our memory slips. It becomes more difficult to recall even our neighbor's name or the password to log in to our computer.

Now, researchers at Emory University are studying new ways to help people with memory problems start to function better. The researchers are working with people who suffer from mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. That means they're experiencing memory problems that are not a normal part of aging.

But, they're still able to function pretty well. They're teaching volunteers new memory strategies that are simple enough for anyone to use every day.

One of those is practicing putting things in their place by using in a computerized model of a house.

Dr. Ben Hampstead said, "So we're trying to use things that are really realistic. So, things they would have difficulty with in everyday life."

A neuropsychologist at Emory and Atlanta VA, Dr. Hampstead says a big challenge is remembering names. So, they teach the volunteers to look for something about the person's face that they can connect with their name.

Once the volunteers have learned the strategies, they are tested again. This time they do it as a functional MRI scanner measures how their brains respond to the same images that they've seen before.

The doctor said, "Ideally what we'd like to do is find techniques that work for these patients and that we can keep them functioning as independently as possible, for as long as possible."

If you're bad with names, Dr. Hampstead advises paying attention when someone introduces themselves. He says a lot of time we're distracted. We don't even really hear what the other person is saying to us.

It can also help to repeat the person's name aloud. Write it down and link it to a person's characteristic.

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