A recent study compares mnemonic strategy and spaced retrieval thinking.
Mnemonic strategies can help individuals with mild cognitive impairments learn and retain information, says a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and Penn State College of Medicine.
Mnemonic strategy thinking allows an individual to connect what they're trying to remember to a word, phrase, or song. The study compared this method with spaced retrieval training, which uses procedural memory to help individuals remember things over increasing increments of time.
"Our research shows that we can help people with mild cognitive impairment improve the amount of information they learn and remember," Benjamin Hapstead, PhD, ABPP/CN, a University of Michigan professor of psychology and the lead and corresponding author of the study said in a statement. "However, different cognitive training approaches engage the brain in distinct ways."
The data gathered through the study, along with the brain scans of its 59 participants, showed which areas of their brain were active and how much. Over the course of three sessions, participants learned 15 "stimuli" with either mnemonic strategy or spaced retrieval training method.
Each participant had previously been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Mnemonic strategy training increased activity in areas of the brain often affected by Alzheimer's, which explains why that method helped participants remember more information for a longer period of time, according to Hampstead. Those using the spaced retrieval method showed reduced brain activity, which suggests that they were able to process the information more efficiently.
Hapstead's team worked with Krish Sathian, MBBS, PhD, professor and chair of Penn State's Department of Neurology. From the study, Sathian observed that cognitive training approaches will likely become more important and be used alongside new pharmacological treatments for individuals with neurodegenerative disorders.
A mild cognitive impairment doesn’t always lead to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and Hampstead said that going forward, researchers and clinicians can use this information to identify the best non-pharmacologic treatment for their patients.
“Our research shows that we can help people with mild cognitive impairment improve the amount of information they learn and remember.”
Benjamin Hapstead, PhD, professor of psychology, University of Michigan
The mnemonic strategy allows an individual to connect what they're trying to remember to a word, phrase, or song.
Spaced retrieval training uses procedural memory to help individuals remember things over increasing increments of time.
Methods like these will likely become more important and be used to supplement pharmacological treatments for individuals with neurodegenerative disorders.