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Do you consider yourself a forgetful person?

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hi-584-forgetful.jpgDo you find yourself scratching your head a lot? Researchers say memory training can help boost memory-creating activity in the brain. (iStock)

If you've ever frantically searched for the passport you hid for safe keeping, you may be among the legions of forgetful people who think they're beyond help.

Not so, say researchers who have studied the effects of memory training at the Emory University School of Medicine and Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Their study suggests that memory training through specific techniques can help absentminded people get a grip on their brain activity.

"Our results suggest that these strategies can help patients remember specific information, such as the locations of objects," said lead author Dr. Benjamin Hampstead.

He added that the study is the first to show that the memory building techniques can re-engage the hippocampus, the brain critical to the formation of new memories, through a randomized, controlled, single-blind study.

The strategies not only helped healthy people but also those with mild cognitive impairment, who are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Participants were tested on their ability to locate common household objects. One group was trained in using a simple, three-step memory-building strategy.

1) Focus on a feature of the room that stands out and is close to the object
2) Think about why the object is in that location
3) Create a mental picture to tie the information together.

Over the course of several sessions, both healthy people and those with mild cognitive impairment were better able to find the objects an hour later. The subjects showed more brain activity in the hippocampus over time.

The trained group also did significantly better than a control group who had to locate the same objects without the techniques.

And like a muscle undergoing strength training, the brain seemed to change with memory training.

"These techniques may hold particular promise given that they appear to promote neuroplastic changes in key brain regions," said co-author Dr. Krish Sathian.

The study is available online in the journal Hippocampus.

If you consider yourself a scatterbrain, have you ever tried to do something about it? What kinds of things do you normally forget? Has your forgetfulness ever got you in a serious bind?

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)


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