Pat Summitt’s Courage

August 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Inspiring People

The winningest college basketball coach in history announces she’s suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s.

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Emotions Outlast The Memories That Drive Them

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

I friend has just sent me this link.  It reminded me of my husband’s 100 year grandmother.  We used to ask her to play the piano and she would say she didn’t know how, but when we walked her to the piano and she touched it, all these emotions would come back to her and she would sit and play smiling all the way.

A study of patients with amnesia finds that the emotion tied to a memory lingers in the mind even after the memory is gone.

The finding, published this week in the journal PNAS, Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences could have important implications for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

One of the loneliest things about loving someone with early Alzheimer’s is the feeling that any good times the two of you share just don’t matter.

Family Caregiver Alliance

“So often I’ll listen to family members say, ‘Oh, I don’t go and visit Grandpa anymore because 10 minutes after I leave, he doesn’t even remember I came,’ ” says Justin Feinstein, a graduate student in neuropsychology at the University of Iowa.

Feinstein had a hunch that those visits made more of an impression than anyone realized. To check, he turned to several people who, like Alzheimer’s patients, have damage to a spot in the brain called the hippocampus.

He describes it as a “kind of a sea-horse-shaped structure right in the middle of the brain, no bigger than the pinkie.”

Damage your hippocampus, and you can’t hang onto new memories for more than a few minutes. It can happen through a stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease.

Feinstein says, “Your brain is no longer able to catch onto those experiences, so your day-to-day experiences, like what you had for breakfast this morning, what you did last Saturday night, those are gone. They’re vanished.”

But Feinstein suspected that the good feelings and bad feelings triggered by meaningful events might linger, captured by a different part of the brain.

So, to stir up some strong emotion, he threw a mini-film fest in his clinic. He showed several people who have damage to the hippocampus a string of short movie clips from tear-jerker classics.

One was the scene in Forrest Gump where he is crying all alone at the grave of his dead wife, Jenny.

It worked. Everyone who watched the film clips was visibly moved — some to tears. Yet a half-hour later, when quizzed about the movies, they didn’t remember a thing — not even one woman who had sobbed during the films.

“We test her memory, her memory’s gone,” Feinstein says. “What happens to her emotions? Well, it turns out she’s still sad…Continued

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