UEA RESEARCH FINDS HOPE FOR MORE ACCURATE DIAGNOSIS OF MEMORY PROBLEMS
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
By Laura Potts Embargo until Wednesday, July 30 2014
More accurate tests could be created to diagnose diseases such as Alzheimer’s or memory problems stemming from head injuries, leading to earlier intervention, according to new findings from the University of East Anglia (UEA).
The research involved investigating the components of memory using a combination of tests and neuroimaging – a method that 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.
Dr Louis Renoult, a lecturer in UEA’s School of Psychology, said: “We are creating a new model of how we look at memory that’s more nuanced and gives us a better picture of how memories, particularly long-term memories, are imprinted.”
The findings, published today in The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, are part of a project led by Dr Renoult with 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.
Dr 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.
“The hope is that advanced methods could be developed to test this newly discovered intermediate form of memory, leading to better approaches to rehabilitation.”
The research was undertaken in 2011-2012 and involved a cohort of 19 healthy subjects.
‘Autobiographically significant concepts: More episodic than semantic in nature? An electrophysiological investigation of overlapping types of memory’ is published in The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience on July 30, 2014.
Fifty Years of the University of East Anglia The University of East Anglia (UEA) was founded in 1963 and this academic year celebrates its 50th anniversary. It has played a significant role in advancing human understanding and in 2012 the Times Higher Education ranked UEA as one of the 10 best universities in the world under 50 years of age. The university has graduated more than 100,000 students, attracted to Norwich Research Park some of Britain’s key research institutes and a major University Hospital, and made a powerful cultural, social and economic impact on the region. UEA was ranked first in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2013. http://www.uea.ac.uk/50years
The University of East Anglia’s School of Psychology is an internationally renowned academic department dedicated to research and teaching. In the Guardian League Table 2014, the teaching of psychology at UEA was ranked 14th in the country. It is also joint eighth for teaching in the 2012 National Student Survey, and joint 11th for overall satisfaction