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No-Mind is better than one that's full of it

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    Study Shows That A Cluttered Brain Doesn t Remember 20 Apr 2011 Lapses in memory occur more frequently with age, yet the reasons for this increasing
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 20, 2011
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      Study Shows That A Cluttered Brain Doesn't Remember
      20 Apr 2011

      Lapses in memory occur more frequently with
      age, yet the reasons for this increasing
      forgetfulness have not always been clear.
      According to new research from Concordia
      University, older individuals have reduced
      learning and memory because their minds tend
      to be cluttered with irrelevant information when
      performing tasks. Published in The Quarterly
      Journal of Experimental Psychology, these findings
      offer new insights into why aging is associated
      with a decline in memory and may lead to practical solutions.

      "The first step of our study was to test the
      working memory of a younger and older population
      and compare the results," says Mervin Blair,
      first author and a PhD student in Concordia's
      Department of Psychology and a member at the
      Centre for Research in Human Development. "In our
      study, working memory refers to the ability of both
      retaining and processing information."

      Some 60 participants took part in the study: half
      were an average of 23 years old, while the other
      half was about 67 years old. Each participant was
      asked to perform a working memory task, which included
      recalling and processing different pieces of information.

      "Overall, we showed that our older participants
      had reduced working memory compared to our
      younger participants," says Blair. "Younger adults
      were better than the older adults at recalling
      and processing information."

      "Our study was novel because we looked at how the
      ability to recall and process information at the
      same time changes as people get older," adds Karen Li,
      senior author and a professor in Concordia's
      Department of Psychology and a member of the Centre
      for Research in Human Development.

      Older people don't purge irrelevant info

      The next step was to determine if there was a
      timeframe when the ability to delete irrelevant
      information, known as inhibition deletion, changed.
      This was measured using a sequential memory task .
      Images were displayed in a random order and
      participants were required to respond to each image
      in a pre-learned manner. Once again, the youngsters
      outperformed their older counterparts. "The older
      adults had poor inhibition, repeatedly responding
      to previously relevant images," says Blair.

      Analyses were conducted to determine the relationship
      between the ability to clear irrelevant information
      and working memory ability. "Poor inhibition
      predicted a decline in the recall component of
      working memory and it also predicted decline in
      the processing component of working memory," says
      Blair. "Basically, older adults are less able to
      keep irrelevant information out of their consciousness, w
      hich then impacts on other mental abilities."

      For those who are having trouble remembering,
      Blair suggests that focusing and reducing mental
      clutter may help. "Reduce clutter, if you don't,
      you may not get anything done."

      Keeping a mind clutter-free can be more difficult
      as people age, especially during periods of stress
      when people focus on stressors, yet Blair says
      relaxation exercises can help de-clutter the brain.
      What's more, the brain continues to function optimally
      into old age when it is mentally stimulated by
      learning a new language, playing an instrument,
      completing crossword puzzles, keeping an active
      social life and exercising.

      About the study:
      The study, "The role of age and inhibitory efficiency
      in working memory processing and storage components,"
      was authored by Mervin Blair, Kiran Vadaga, Joni Shuchat
      and Karen Li of Concordia University.

      Partners in research:
      This work was supported by funds from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

      Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
      Concordia University

      Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/222936.php

      This article is being posted for non-commercial
      purposes and thus falls under the Fair Use statutes
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