Memory loss and brain filters
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 3, 2005
The short-term memory problems that accompany normal aging are associated with an inability to filter out surrounding distractions, not problems with focusing attention, according to a study in the Sept. 11 online Nature Neuroscience.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of the brain showed memory failure owes more to interference from irrelevant information than to an inability to focus on relevant information, according to the study.
"These results reveal that efficiently focusing on relevant information is not enough to ensure successful memory," said Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Gazzaley was lead author on the study, which was conducted while he was at the University of California at Berkeley.
The finding could mean that inability to ignore distracting information is at the heart of many cognitive problems that accompany aging, he said. Drugs that target that problem could be more effective at improving memory than drugs that improve focusing ability, he added.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/10/03/hlbf1003.htm.