This news may provide some comfort to family members of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. A new study from Iowa University claims that even though patients might not remember a joke or an important conversation but even then the warm feelings connected to the experience may stick around and improve their mood.
Study authors apparently showed people with memory loss clips of happy and sad movies. Even though the volunteers could not remember what they had viewed, they seemingly retained the emotions educed by the clips.
Justin Feinstein, lead study author and a UI doctoral student in clinical neuropsychology believes that the finding may have direct repercussions on Alzheimer’s disease.
Feinstein commented, “A simple visit or phone call from family members might have a lingering positive influence on a patient’s happiness even though the patient may quickly forget the visit or phone call. On the other hand, routine neglect from staff at nursing homes may leave the patient feeling sad, frustrated and lonely even though the patient can’t remember why.”
The study authors examined roughly five rare neurological patients with impairment to their hippocampus, a part of the brain that seems to be vital for shifting short-term memories into long-term storage. Injury to the hippocampus apparently averts new memories from being obtained.
The experiment began with an emotion-induction method by means of potent film clips. Every amnesic patient saw around 20 minutes of either sad or happy movies on different days. The movies seemingly activated the suitable emotion, varying from intense bouts of laughter during happy films to tears of sorrow during sad ones.
Around 10 minutes post the ending of the clip; experts gave patients a memory test to observe if they could remember what they had viewed. As anticipated, the patients were tremendously impaired. A fit person may remember around 30 details from every clip, but one patient couldn’t recollect a single detail. Following the memory test, patients replied to questions to weigh their emotions.
Feinstein remarked, “Indeed, they still felt the emotion. Sadness tended to last a bit longer than happiness, but both emotions lasted well beyond their memory of the films. With healthy people, you see feelings decay as time goes on. In two patients, the feelings didn’t decay; in fact, their sadness lingered.”
These discoveries confront the popular idea that wiping out a sore memory may eradicate psychological suffering. Apparently, this study strengthens the significance of attending to the emotional necessities of people with Alzheimer’s.
The study was published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.