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Alzheimer's may leave some forms of memory intact

ion. "Our hope is that by demonstrating the availability of these systems, this knowledge will be translated to cognitive training programs for the healthy elderly and those with forms of dementia, which we just had not anticipated when we began this work," Buckner said.

At this point it appears that structured training programs might be the most effective approach. "Our earlier work had shown that if you leave older adults to form their own approach to a task spontaneously, that's perhaps the least helpful situation," he said. "Whereas, if you constrain the task and give very directed goals, it helps older adults recruit those remaining neural areas. In this study, we've shown that it is possible to tap into high-level cognitive areas that show preserved memory function."

"Further research," said Buckner, "will include studies to understand the neural mechanisms underlying implicit memory, to pinpoint how they are compromised in both the healthy elderly and those with Alzheimer's disease."


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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
9-Jun-2004


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