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Posted: July 29, 2008

Alzheimer's Patients May Retain Memories Longer Than We Thought

Alzheimer’s patients may not start losing memories until later stages of the mind-robbing disease than previously thought, experts say.


Researchers from three British universities conducted research that found that Alzheimer’s patients often know more than they appear to retain at first sight.


Scientists from the universities at Dundee, Abertay and St. Andrews asked people suffering from the disease to define 32 words. The study involved seven people with Alzheimer’s disease and seven healthy older adults.


According to their report in the journal Aphasiology, the researchers found that the participating Alzheimer’s patients struggled to define simple words but could generate more detailed information when asked more specific questions.


Professor Trevor Harley, from Dundee University, said it has been long assumed that Alzheimer's "causes this knowledge to be destroyed.”


"However, we found that if you probe the patient in the right way with appropriate questions that support them to search their stored knowledge, they can often generate more detailed information," he added, concluding: "The knowledge isn't always lost; it's just not as accessible."

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