Professor Michael A. Yassa, Neurobiology and Behavior, is interested in uncovering the brain mechanisms that control learning and memory storage and how memories are altered during aging and disease. Recent work from his lab has led to the development of a new memory test that allows researchers to determine the impact of emotion on memory processing. When the new test was given to a group of older adults that were shown to have either normal verbal memory or subtle deficits in verbal memory, the adults with subtle deficits were found to have selective retention of positive emotional memories. This new test allows for a more accurate assessment of emotional memory function during aging and, when combined with additional measurements of brain health, may better aid in the identification of those patients most likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
“It is possible that selectively remembering positive information may be related to changes in brain networks supporting memory,” said Professor Yassa. “Future studies using brain imaging techniques will be essential in understanding the mechanisms underlying this effect.”
Other researchers who contributed to the study were: Stephanie Leal, Jessica Noche and Elizabeth Murray. Results from the study were published in the August addition of Learning & Memory.