Alzheimer's Disease: time to learn to dance!
Not many people know that whilst AD patients lose many declarative memory functions, like remembering new faces or learning lists of words, they retain the possibility to learn new physical activities. It turns out that our so-called "procedural" memory (storing the things that we learn by actually doing them) involves different brain areas from the declarative memory. The good news is that the procedural memory seems to be spared during progression of the illness. This article published by the famous neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio and his team, show that AD patients perform as well as control subjects in learning a motor task but not in learning a grocery list or recognising faces. The researchers conclude that learning new physical activities should be envisaged as an occupational therapy for AD patients as they could provide positive feedback and encouragement to the patients themselves as well as carers and families.