There is nothing fun about getting old. One of the worst things is deterioration of mental capacities, such as memory. As people get older, retention of new information typically declines, but there are ways to delay and slow down this process. Scientists from the University of Waterloo found that drawing is better than writing when it comes to memory retention and it doesn’t even matter if the person is not good at it.
Not many people are good at drawing – it is not an essential skill. And writing notes does help memory retention quite a bit, but scientists found that drawing enhanced memory in older adults more than other known methods, such as re-writing notes, visualization exercises or passively looking at images. Scientists asked young people and older adults to do a variety of memory-encoding techniques and then tested their recall. Results simply showed that drawing led to better memory when compared with other methods and scientists believe it was because visual, spatial, verbal, semantic and motoric functions are needed for drawing.
These are actually very good news, because drawing is actually quite easy. You don’t need many tools or professional help – it really doesn’t matter how good you are at drawing. Scientists say that they will be looking into ways how drawing could help people with dementia, who are experiencing rapid memory loss and impaired language. People seem to remember things better when they draw them instead of writing about them, re-writing notes or simply looking at images. This effect is especially strong in older adults and that is quite interesting. While cognitive ability and memory decline as people age, parts of brain responsible for images and pictures remain largely intact in both normal aging and dementia.
Scientists say that drawing could become a part of standard therapy for people with dementia. Melissa Meade, one of the authors of this study, said: “We think that drawing is particularly relevant for people with dementia because it makes better use of brain regions that are still preserved, and could help people experiencing cognitive impairment with memory function. Our findings have exciting implications for therapeutic interventions to help dementia patients hold on to valuable episodic memories throughout the progression of their disease”.
Drawing will not save the memory or cure people from dementia. However, it could be a little step that helps retaining some memories and generally slowing down progression of the disease. It is easy and quite pleasant, which is why more people should do it.
Source: University of Waterloo