The link between language and memory
Plus, a stroll down memory lane.
“We found that, increasingly, older people had fewer negative emotions.” – psychologist Laura Carstensen
Found in translation. Last week, we talked about the surprising prevalence of false memories. This week, we have an interesting twist on that topic: a new study looking at the relationship between language and memory found that “people have fewer false memories in their second language,” said researcher Boaz Keysar, director of the Multilingualism and Decision-Making Lab at the University of Chicago. Keysar and colleagues gave people a list of words like “bed,” “snooze,” and “dream,” purposely omitting an obvious related word, like “sleep,” to test their memory. The volunteers were then asked to recall which words they remembered from the list, along with which related words were not on the list. People had more accurate memories when they read the list in a secondary language. So what’s going on in the brain when this happens? Professor David Gallo, head of the University’s Memory Research Lab, explained: “When you're using a second language, it activates this mindset of being more careful with your judgments and your decision making.”
A step at a time. Regular walks are good for us, and new research suggests that walking might even help with cognitive decline. In a study published in The Journal for Alzheimer’s Disease Reports, researchers looked at adults between 71 and 85 years old. Some had normal brain functioning, while others were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and, therefore, were at risk for Alzheimer’s. For a period of 12 weeks, participants walked on a treadmill for four days a week and were also given various memory tasks. They were, for example, asked to read a short story, then to repeat what they read, recalling as many details as possible. The researchers also used fMRI to measure activity in brain networks associated with cognitive function. After exercising for 12 weeks, people showed significant improvements in their memory. Also, “the brain activity was stronger and more synchronized,” said study author J. Carson Smith. “These results provide even more hope that exercise may be useful as a way to prevent or help stabilize people with mild cognitive impairment and maybe, over the long term, delay their conversion to Alzheimer's dementia.”
A Recipe for (Mega) Success: There are plenty of talented people in the world. So why do only a tiny percentage of us reach the highest peaks of achievement? Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
The Best Years of Your Life: Aging isn’t just a biological process. Our outlook and emotions also change as we age, often in ways that boost our well-being. Psychologist Laura Carstensen unpacks the science behind this surprising finding and shares what we can learn from older people.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Susan Haas’ Story: Susan recalls the stylist who took a chance on her when she couldn't afford a haircut.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to email@example.com.
FROM OUR LISTENERS
Which number does not belong: 99, 81, 9, or 16?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
Is it correct to say "The yolk of eggs is white" or "The yolk of eggs are white"?
The answer: Neither, the yolk of eggs are yellow.
A MOMENT OF JOY
Who says it’s hard to make friends as an adult?