K-State researcher awarded $1.9 million to research memory recall, Alzheimer’s

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 1:05 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - One K-State researcher has been awarded $1.95 million to research how memory recall affects early-stage Alzheimer’s patients.

Kansas State University says a National Institutes of Health grant will help one researcher explore memory recall in healthy adults and early-stage Alzheimer’s disease patients.

K-State indicated that Heather Bailey, associate professor of psychological sciences, was awarded a 5-year $1.95 million collaborative grant to research the extent to which older adults use previous knowledge to help learn and remember new information, as well as if this ability changes in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

“The study looks at how memory for everyday activities changes as we age,” Bailey said. “We’re interested in what factors explain why older adults often don’t remember everyday information as well as they would like. This research will evaluate the differences between young adults, older adults and those who have started to develop dementia.”

K-State noted that the grant allows Bailey to continue to build on her research about how the brain processes and recalls events and compare that to how Alzheimer’s disease alters these processes. It said the study involves adults who watch everyday activities unfold and report on their observations while their brain activity is measured.

“When you see something happen in real life, your brain is mentally representing it at the same time,” said Bailey. “We want to know if the quality of somebody’s later memory is due to how well they can represent that information while watching it happen.”

Bailey said she will also test a memory intervention with Alzheimer’s patients. While patients watch an everyday activity, she said her research team will provide helpful cues that should trigger prior, relevant memories. By doing so, she said observers can link the new, incoming information with well-learned information from their pst - like times they have brushed their teeth or prepared a cup of coffee.

“With Alzheimer’s disease those memories are hard to call up much of the time,” Bailey said. “I want to see if adding the intervention cues makes an activity more memorable.”

Bailey noted that if the cues are helpful in memory recall in Alzheimer’s patients, occupational therapists, nurses and caregivers could use this information to add to the quality of life for dementia patients.

For this project, K-State said Bailey will collaborate with Matt Wisniewski, assistant professor of psychological sciences, Laura Martin from the University of Kansas Medical Center, and Dr. Ryan Townley from the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Research Center.

Those interested in participating in this study can find eligibility guidelines and more information HERE.