February 23, 2017

Basic Memory Processes & Aging - Dr. Nathan Rose


For our February Alzheimer’s Talks, guest host Meryl Comer talked with Dr. Nathan Rose, Assistant Professor of Cognition Brain and Behavior in the Department of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Rose’s research focuses on basic memory processes and how these processes break down in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. He shared with us two exciting areas of his memory research that have earned his team a lot of media attention recently.


Key Highlights

Locating missing memory

Dr. Rose and his team are helping us better understand how the brain processes short-term memory through neuroimaging techniques. They found that some working memories, once thought to be forgotten, were actually still present though neuroimaging techniques had been unable to see activity for these types of memory. When Dr. Rose used TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, to ping or trigger brain areas associated with these silent memories, neural activity increased and the lost working memories were briefly reactivated. This research provides a shift in understanding of working memory and short-term retention. Dr. Rose is currently studying healthy people to better understand how the brain works, and future research will look at how those mechanisms break down in aging and conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Remembering to remember

Prospective memory is remembering to remember to do something at the appropriate time in the future (ex. taking medicine at bedtime). This ability is often lost for those with Alzheimer’s disease and affects the ability to live independently.

Dr. Rose and his team have developed a game called Virtual Week to help people work on strategies to strengthen prospective memory. His research has shown that people not only improved at the game, but also improved at performing instrumental activities of daily living and remembering to remember outside the lab. The game has been so popular that he is developing an app to bring it to a wider audience.

Thank you to Dr. Rose for talking about his research on memory.