For this year's World Alzheimers Day, Dr. Deason from Texas State University, reflects on how aging and disease affects the human mind, particularly in older adults.
Who: Dr. Rebecca Deason, Associate Professor of Psychology at Texas State, investigates how we learn and remember items and how memory is changed by aging and disease.
Dr. Deason has researched memory of words, pictures, and music in young adults, healthy, older adults, and patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) to find ways to enhance and maintain cognition throughout the lifespan. Dr. Deason believes changes in cognition with age is an important issue as the population itself ages. Interventions to increase the chances of healthy aging or to improve the lives of those suffering from age-related diseases such as AD are desirable and currently a focus of much scientific work.
Currently, Dr. Deason operates a Memory and Cognition lab (http://memcoglab.wp.txstate.edu) where her students and herself study younger and older participants on computer/laptop-based experiments and additionally run young adult participants in EEG/ERP studies. The ERP studies involve recording electrical activity as measured on the scalp- to make inferences about cognitive processes. In addition, music and memory is another area of focus for her research.
Dr. Deason says music may aid memory performance in older adults and patients with AD, and her research has been some of the first to explore the possibilities and limitations of musical mnemonics. Patients with AD showed increase recognition memory for lyrics that had been sung compared to spoken music. Recently, Dr. Deason found intact implicit memory for musical stimuli in patients and says further investigation of how and why musical mnemonics work is critical for successfully using music to improve memory performance throughout the lifespan. Dr. Deason’s work centers on finding solutions to improve the daily lives of older adults and patients with Alzheimer’s disease.