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Memory. 2019 Apr;27(4):441-454. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2018.1515960. Epub 2018 Sep 8.

Five weeks of immersive reminiscence therapy improves autobiographical memory in Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

1
a Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences , Aarhus University , Aarhus C , Denmark.

Abstract

We examined the effects of a new Immersive Reminiscence Therapy (IRT) programme on cognitive function, including autobiographical memory, in a sample Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. A total of 43 AD patients with mild to moderate disease severity were randomly assigned to either an intervention group (n = 22, MMMSE = 20.77), or a control group (n = 21, MMMSE = 19.24). The intervention group received one weekly group-based session of IRT for five weeks in an authentic 1950s style museum environment, matching the time of the participants' youth. IRT included semi-structured conversations about the past. The control group received standard care. We assessed performance on cognitive function and autobiographical memory at baseline and post-intervention. Five weeks of IRT enhanced subsequent autobiographical memory performance, when participants were cued by concrete objects dated to their youth. Object-cued memories reported post intervention included a significantly higher degree of episodic details and higher word counts. The intervention showed no effect on the Autobiographical Memory Interview or word-cued recall. Global cognitive function and semantic autobiographical memory performance increased across time for both groups. Our findings demonstrate that immersion into a setting, rich on concrete cues dated to the participants' youth can improve autobiographical remembering.

KEYWORDS:

Alzheimer’s disease; Autobiographical memory; cognitive stimulation; episodic memory; immersive reminiscence therapy; object-cueing

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