Latest news from mempowered

A study of younger and older adults indicates that memory search tends to decline with age because, with reduced cognitive control, seniors’ minds tend to ‘flit’ too quickly from one information cluster to another.

Evidence is accumulating that age-related cognitive decline is rooted in three related factors: processing speed slows down (because of myelin degradation); the ability to inhibit distractions becomes impaired; working memory capacity is reduced. A new study adds to this evidence by looking at one particular aspect of age-related cognitive decline: memory search. The study put 185 adults aged...
April, 2013
A survey of college students found that those who scored highest in multitasking ability were also least likely to multitask, while those who scored lowest were most likely to engage in it.
I’ve reported often on the perils of multitasking. Here is yet another one, with an intriguing new finding: it seems that the people who multitask the most are those least capable of doing so! The study surveyed 310 undergraduate psychology students to find their actual multitasking ability, perceived multitasking ability, cell phone use while driving, use of a wide array of electronic...
March, 2013
A new study confirms the role slow-wave sleep plays in consolidating memories, and reveals that one reason for older adults’ memory problems may be the quality of their sleep.
Recent research has suggested that sleep problems might be a risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s, and in mild cognitive impairment. A new study adds to this gathering evidence by connecting reduced slow-wave sleep in older adults to brain atrophy and poorer learning. The study involved 18 healthy young adults (mostly in their 20s) and 15 healthy older adults (mostly in their 70s)....
February, 2013
A review on the immediate effects of alcohol on sleep has found that alcohol shortens the time it takes to fall asleep, increases deep sleep, and reduces REM sleep.
Because sleep is so important for memory and learning (and gathering evidence suggests sleep problems may play a significant role in age-related cognitive impairment), I thought I’d make quick note of a recent review bringing together all research on the immediate effects of alcohol on the sleep of healthy individuals. The review found that alcohol in any amount reduces the time it takes...
February, 2013
Two small studies suggest that standard testing of concussed high school athletes might be insufficiently sensitive.
I’ve talked before about how even mild head injuries can have serious consequences, and in recent years we’ve seen growing awareness of the long-term dangers of sports’ concussions (especially for young people). This has been followed by a number of initiatives to help protect athletes. However, while encouraging, they may still be under-estimating the problem. Two recent...
February, 2013
Gossipy content and informal language may lie behind people's better recall of Facebook posts compared to memory for human faces or sentences from books.
Online social networking, such as Facebook, is hugely popular. A series of experiments has explored the intriguing question of whether our memories are particularly ‘tuned’ to remember the sort of information shared on such sites. The first experiment involved 32 college students (27 female), who were asked to study either 100 randomly chosen Facebook posts, or 100 sentences randomly...
February, 2013
Women who undergo surgical menopause at an earlier age may have an increased risk of cognitive decline.
The issue of the effect of menopause on women’s cognition, and whether hormone therapy helps older women fight cognitive decline and dementia, has been a murky one. Increasing evidence suggests that the timing and type of therapy is critical. A new study makes clear that we also need to distinguish between women who experience early surgical menopause and those who experience natural...
February, 2013
A mouse study shows that weakening unwanted or out-of-date connections is as important as making new connections, and that neurological changes as we age reduces our ability to weaken old connections.
A new study adds more support to the idea that the increasing difficulty in learning new information and skills that most of us experience as we age is not down to any difficulty in acquiring new information, but rests on the interference from all the old information. Memory is about strengthening some connections and weakening others. A vital player in this process of synaptic plasticity is...
February, 2013
A study emphasizes the importance of establishing source credibility when trying to correct false information.
I’ve discussed before how hard it is to correct false knowledge. This is not only a problem for the classroom — the preconceptions students bring to a topic, and the difficulty of replacing them with the correct information — but, in these days of so much misinformation in the media and on the web, an everyday problem. An internet study involving 574 adults presented them...
February, 2013
A large study finds that hearing loss significantly increases the rate of cognitive decline in old age.
I’ve written before about the gathering evidence that sensory impairment, visual impairment and hearing loss in particular, is a risk factor for age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Now a large long-running study provides more support for the association between hearing loss and age-related cognitive decline. The study involved 1,984 older adults (aged 75-84) whose hearing and...
February, 2013
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