Memories are Made of This: Differences in Working Memory with Age are Linked to Memory Strategies Used

It seems to be a fact of life that memory performance decreases as we age, but new research helps to understand what precisely is decreasing, why and points towards strategies that might help. A study published in the journal Memory suggests that older adults perform less well on working memory tasks as they do not forget information that is no longer relevant [1]. This might sound like a good thing, but it leads to overload of memory processes, damaging memory performance.

Images in the mindImages in the mind image via Shutterstock

Memory Enhancement Achieved in Rats

Memories are fragile; initially forming and then retrieving them are both dependent on new protein synthesis in the brain, and both processes are vulnerable to disruption. A number of agents are known that can impair memory and these can certainly be useful — for example, in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd). Enhancing memory, however, has proven more difficult. Yet as noted in The New York Times last week [1], two different research groups have recently reported enhancing memory in rats [2-3]. Of note is the fact that they did so utilizing independent molecular pathways.

Rat in a maze

Growth Factor Enhances Memory, Prevents Forgetting in Rats

A naturally occurring growth factor significantly boosted retention and prevented forgetting of a fear memory when injected into rats’ memory circuitry during time-limited windows when memories become fragile and changeable. In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), animals treated with insulin-like growth factor (IGF2) excelled at remembering to avoid a location where they had previously experienced a mild shock [1].

Health Highlights – March 6th, 2009

Health Highlights is a biweekly summary of particularly interesting articles from credible sources of health and medical information that we follow & read. For a complete list of recommeded sources, see our links page.

Health Highlights

Encephalon #58 – Decision Making

Welcome to the 58th edition of Encephalon, where we highlight some of the best neuroscience and psychology blog posts from around the blogosphere. This edition includes 20 articles on a variety of interesting topics, including intelligence, belief, neurodegeneration, multi-tasking, memory, grief and consciousness.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.

This edition of Encephalon coincides with the historic 44th U.S. Presidential election. As with every election, voters had to decide which candidate for whom to cast their ballot. Although a recent brain-imaging study found that voting decisions are more associated with the brain’s response to negative aspects of a politician’s appearance than to positive ones [1], many other sources of information come into play when we make important and complex decisions. Indeed, studies have shown that decision making is largely an unconscious process [2], in which a set of attributes, including needs, preferences, values and emotions, shape our response to sensory input.

Will there be engaging and thought-provoking articles below? Will each of us learn something new as we read through the posts? Will this edition of Encephalon be successful?

Let’s move through each of the attributes and shape our response to these questions.