Friday, December 23, 2022

A smart phone intervention that enhances memory in older adults.

Martin et al.  offer an open source article that describes a smartphone intervention that enhances real-world memory and promotes differentiation of hippocampal activity in older adults.  I have downloaded the HippoCamera smartphone App described in the text from the Apple App Store, and found a research passcode is required, for which the following clip of text from the article is relevant: "As of the time of writing, this is a research-dedicated application that requires an access code that can be obtained from a corresponding author."


The ability to vividly recollect our past declines with age, a trend that negatively impacts overall well-being. We show that using smartphone technologies to record and replay brief but rich memory cues from daily life can improve older adults’ ability to reexperience the past. This enhancement was associated with corresponding changes in the way memories were stored in the brain. Functional neuroimaging showed that repeatedly replaying memory cues drove memories apart from one another in the hippocampus, a brain region with well-established links to memory function. This increase in differentiation likely facilitated behavior by strengthening memory and minimizing competition among different memories at retrieval. This work reveals an easy-to-use intervention that helps older adults better remember their personal past.
The act of remembering an everyday experience influences how we interpret the world, how we think about the future, and how we perceive ourselves. It also enhances long-term retention of the recalled content, increasing the likelihood that it will be recalled again. Unfortunately, the ability to recollect event-specific details and reexperience the past tends to decline with age. This decline in recollection may reflect a corresponding decrease in the distinctiveness of hippocampal memory representations. Despite these well-established changes, there are few effective cognitive behavioral interventions that target real-world episodic memory. We addressed this gap by developing a smartphone-based application called HippoCamera that allows participants to record labeled videos of everyday events and subsequently replay, high-fidelity autobiographical memory cues. In two experiments, we found that older adults were able to easily integrate this noninvasive intervention into their daily lives. Using HippoCamera to repeatedly reactivate memories for real-world events improved episodic recollection and it evoked more positive autobiographical sentiment at the time of retrieval. In both experiments, these benefits were observed shortly after the intervention and again after a 3-mo delay. Moreover, more detailed recollection was associated with more differentiated memory signals in the hippocampus. Thus, using this smartphone application to systematically reactivate memories for recent real-world experiences can help to maintain a bridge between the present and past in older adults.

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