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Alzheimer's patients may not remember your jokes, but tell them anyway

April 12, 2010 |  4:54 pm

Hands Just because one person doesn't recall the details of an emotional moment doesn't mean the exchange was for naught. Simply having shared it can mean a lot.

University of Iowa researchers studied five brain-damaged patients suffering from amnesia, asking them to watch emotion-filled film clips and then later questioning them about the clips and about the feelings evoked by them. In what was not a surprise, the amnesiacs could remember very little of what they'd seen. In what was more of a surprise -- and more relevant -- the emotions lingered.

Because the hippocampus is affected in severe amnesia and in Alzheimer's disease, the same likely holds true for Alzheimer's patients, the researchers reported.

Of note: Both happiness and sadness hung around for a while.

Here's the memory study abstract, published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the news release from the University of Iowa.

Plus, tips from the Alzheimer's Assn. on communicating with people who have dementia.

And more communication advice from

For people with dementia, anything to build happiness can't be a bad thing.

-- Tami Dennis

Credit: Los Angeles Times