Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alzheimer's detection: What's his name again? How celebrity monikers can help us remember

Date:
December 20, 2009
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
Famous mugs do more than prompt us into buying magazines, according to new research. Scientists explain how the ability to name famous faces or access biographical knowledge about celebrities holds clues that could help in early Alzheimer's detection.

Famous mugs do more than prompt us into buying magazines, according to new Université de Montréal research. In the December issue of the Canadian Journal on Aging, a team of scientists explain how the ability to name famous faces or access biographical knowledge about celebrities holds clues that could help in early Alzheimer's detection.

"Semantic memory for people -- triggered through name, voice or face -- is knowledge we have gathered over the course of our lifetime on a person which enables us to recognize this person," says senior author Sven Joubert, a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Psychology and a researcher at the Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.

The goal of semantic study was to determine whether the ability to recall names of famous people decreases with age, since the condition named anomia ranks among the most common complaints from the elderly. To investigate, Dr. Joubert collaborated with first author Roxane Langlois to divide 117 healthy elderly, aged 60 to 91 years old, into three groups who were submitted to two semantic memory tests.

In a first test, subjects were shown the faces of 30 famous people such as Albert Einstein, Céline Dion, Catherine Deneuve, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Wayne Gretzky. They were first asked to name these famous faces, and then questioned on their professions, nationality and specific life events. In a second test a few weeks later, subjects were shown the names of the same 30 celebrities and were questioned again on biographical knowledge.

The result? Our ability to recall the name of someone we know upon seeing their face declines steadily in normal aging. Semantic memory for people however seems unaffected by age. For instance, even if a subject couldn't name George W. Bush they still knew he was a politician or president of the United States. Another finding is that healthy elderly are better at accessing biographical knowledge about famous people from their names than from their faces. A person's name provides direct access to semantic memory because it is invariant, contrarily to visual stimuli.

These findings motived Dr. Joubert to conduct a second study, in press in Neuropsychologia, on elderly people suffering from mild cognitive impairment and another group in the initial phase of Alzheimer's.

"Our hypothesis was that contrary to the healthy subjects, both these groups should show difficulties finding the names of people, but that they should also show signs of a depleting semantic memory," says Dr. Joubert, adding that since 50 to 80 percent of people with mild cognitive problems develop Alzheimer's over the course of several years.

This semantic memory test could become an essential clinical tool to identify people at risk of developing the disease. Results show that the ability to remember names is even more pronounced in mild cognitive impairment and in early Alzheimer's disease than in normal aging. Contrary to normal aging, however, a decline in semantic memory for famous people was also observed.

The study on normal aging was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The study on mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease was supported by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the, the Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Langlois et al. Manque du nom propre et effet de la modalité sur la capacité à reconnaître des personnes connues au cours du vieillissement normal. Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement, 2009; 28 (4): 337 DOI: 10.1017/S0714980809990183

Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Alzheimer's detection: What's his name again? How celebrity monikers can help us remember." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218133303.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2009, December 20). Alzheimer's detection: What's his name again? How celebrity monikers can help us remember. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218133303.htm
University of Montreal. "Alzheimer's detection: What's his name again? How celebrity monikers can help us remember." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218133303.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins