Forget Me Not
UEA researchers have been investigating a new type of memory, they hope it will lead to improved diagnoses of diseases such as dementia, memory damage from stroke or forms of amnesia caused by head trauma.
Researchers, from UEA’s School of Psychology, investigated the components of our memory using a combination of psychological tests and neuroimaging.
The research is creating a new model of memory that is more nuanced and that gives a better picture of how memories are imprinted. It is hoped that advanced methods could be developed to test this newly discovered intermediate form of memory, leading to better approaches to rehabilitation and to help diagnose diseases such as Alzheimer’s or memory problems stemming from head injuries.
Dr Louis Renoult said: “If patients lose semantic memory, they struggle with knowledge of everyday objects in the world, and have trouble communicating.
“But if you provide some personal application to those objects – for example showing a dog to someone who kept a dog as a pet – the patient may demonstrate they’ve retained memory of that object.
“The research shows this retained memory performance may result from the brain’s automatic activation of personal episodes by related knowledge.
“We haven’t previously been aware of this intermediate form of memory, which combines semantic knowledge with autobiographical, or ‘episodic’ memory.”
This method could be used to create a diagnostic tool for distinguishing between different types of dementia, memory damage from stroke or forms of amnesia caused by head trauma.
The project, led by Dr Renoult has contributions from academics at the University of Ottawa, the State University of New York College at Old Westbury and the Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Toronto.