Latest News » New learning strategy may act as memory enhancer for the elderly

Distraction learning may provide memory support for older individuals.

Memory loss is widely perceived to be an inevitable aspect of the aging process, as even individuals who are not diagnosed with a degenerative disorder like Alzheimer's disease are wont to notice that their recollection gets a bit hazier over time. Certain nutritional choices you make now, such as including natural memory enhancers like curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, may help preserve your cognitive functions as you age.

In addition, researchers from the University of Toronto have recently discovered that a relatively new technique known as "distraction learning" may combat age-related issues with memory retention. Another common source of frustration for middle-aged and elderly individuals is a growing difficulty staying focused. However, according to ScienceDaily, leading U of T scientist Lynn Hasher notes that "poor regulation of attention by older adults may actually have some benefits for memory."

To establish this connection, the researchers recruited young adults and older individuals to complete a memory test that involved recalling a selection of words. Between learning the words and being asked to remember them, both groups were given an image-based test during which a selection of the words appeared as a peripheral element. This exposure, the source notes, had no effect on the young participants, but did help the older age group – to the point where their retention was comparable to the youths'.

The lead author on the project, Ph.D student Renee Biss, explains that aging brains are "doing something very adaptive […] to make up for weakening memory," – namely, they become better able to absorb "relevant and irrelevant" details about their surroundings, even if the individual isn't aware that they are taking these elements in.

The scientists involved expressed optimism that this discovery may have widespread ramifications among the elderly community. In the meantime, taking supplements with memory enhancement capabilities may also help fend off age-based forgetfulness. 

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