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Memory Among Seniors Improved By Rote Learning


A new study offers older adults a simple way to combat loss: Memorization.

It was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America(RSNA) by Jonathan McNulty B>Sc., H. Dip, of the School of Medicine and Medical Science at University College Dublin Ireland and Richard Roche, PhD. of the Department of Psychology at National University of Ireland in Maynooth.

The research found that seniors who engaged in an intensive perioe of rote learning followed by an equally long rest period exhibited improved memory and verbal recall. There was not an immediate improvement following the intensive memorization period. However, after a six week rest, the volunteers manifested both metabolic changes in the brain and improved memory performance.

As people age:

  1. They often begin to experience forgetfulness and may have difficulty learning new material.
  2. About 40 % of people over age 60 have some kind of memory difficulty.
  3. Mild, age-related memory loss occurs and is caused by the loss of brain cells over time, along with changes in brain chemistry.

The researchers studied how repeated cognitive exercise impacts memory and recall, as well as the health of brain cells involved in memory.

The study involved:

  • 24 healthy older adults between the ages of 55 and 70.
  • The volunteers engaged in six weeks of intensive rote learning, memorizing a newspaper article or poem of 500 words, followed by six weeks of rest.
  • An extensive battery of learning and memory tests administered before and after the six week learning period.
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy(MRS) - a special type of magnetic resonance imaging- was performed on half of the volunteers before and after the intensive learning session and again six weeks later.

At the end of the six week learing session, no changes in the brain metabolism or memory performance were observed. Following the rest period, all of the volunteers experienced improvements in their verbal and episodic memory. They were better able to:

  • remember
  • repeat a short story and a list of words.
  • to recall events which occurred earlier in the day or week.

The researchers concluded the brain should be exercised through the retirement years as a defense against:

  1. Dementia.
  2. Cognitive lapses.
  3. Memory Failure

Anyone can engage in memorization activities.