How would Alzheimer disease affect a mnemonist or... would a mnemonist be able to deal with a developing Alzheimer?

What a subject !

Is spatial memory affected by Alzheimer disease ?

Anyone working in a hospital there with access to Alzheimer patients to see if they could store information in loci, for example ?

Could one recently diagnosed with Alzheimer prepare for what is dawning on him/her ?

Can you imagine the impact of this on millions of people if we found out that a special kind of memory was not (so much) affected by Alzheimer ?


That’s an interesting question.
I don’t know anyone with Alzheimers. Does it interfere with the ability to remember to use the method of loci?

I’d be interested in a study where two groups of (non-Alzheimers) seniors would be tested on cognitive function and memory over a couple of years. Only one group would practice memory techniques. Could it slow down forgetfulness?

This 72-year old is in better shape than me, so maybe a trained mind could perform at a much younger level too… :slight_smile:

My Grandfather had both Alzheimers and Parkinson’s, but he is gone now so I am unable to ask him. I’ve heard/read, though obviously can’t state from experience, that Alzheimers seems to be linked with inactivity (both physically, and mentally), so perhaps by keeping your mind active with Mnemonics and other activities, you are significantly decreasing your risk of Alzheimers. However, in terms of stopping it, I have no idea, but would certainly be interested to know!

Unfortunately, Alzheimers is a real disease: some unfortunate active people develop symptoms at the early age of 40 or less, and the brains of an Alzheimers patient is physically affected by the illness…

However, some patients still retain memories from the past, hence my original question (would it be possible for these patients to store information in other places than those affected by the illness by using loci, for instance).


My poor mom is getting early onset dementia, which is not so different. It’s painful to watch. I’ve tried asking her to do some memory work, but she just doesn’t have the interest in it, even though she recognizes that it would probably be beneficial. I’m almost certain it would be, even if she would just memorize the alphabet backwards or something like that.

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Ouch, it must be a difficult situation, to see a beloved person losing her mind…

You’ve got all my sympathy…


Thanks for the kind words, Zaphod.

The worst part is that she’s such an amazing person. So far the issue hasn’t harmed her personality, but it feels like it’s going to soon.

From my understanding of it, Alzheimer slowly clugs your neural pathways, which eventually leads to death of affected neurons and thus destruction of brain matter. You can’t really fight the Alzheimer, no matter how hard you try, you will get the disease, and you will die roughly as fast as you would if you did nothing.

However, it has been observed that people with high IQ seem to get symptoms much later. This was studied, and it was revealed that rather than high IQ protecting anyone from dementia, it created a buffer that allowed you to circumvent damage caused by dementia, so you could lead a relatively normal life longer, actively compensating for the accumulating damage to your brains. From this, I extrapolate that if a memory master gets a dementia, he or she could lead a relatively normal life even when a normal person would be needing extensive care, but it doesn’t shield one indefinitely. The brain would keep on detoriating, and eventually all that buffer would be exhausted.

Sorry for such a grim post.

On the contrary, it may give hope to someone to be able to live a reasonable life for a longer period of time if their brain is trained…

But my real question is the following: if using loci allows us to use different parts of our brains (than those normally used for rote memory), if we know that diseases affecting memory have an effect on rote memory, in some patients, their long time memory seems to be less affected than their short time memory…

The question is then the following: if using loci allows to store information directly into long time memory (we all have experienced in this forum that whatever we memorize using loci can stay there for a very long time), could this be a method that could help people affected by short term memory loss to keep up living a reasonable life for a longer period of time ?

I’m thinking of people who need to have lists pasted everywhere in their homes to remind them from the beginning of the day what they must do next (go to bathroom to brush teeth and wash, then get dressed, then… )

It seems to me that such lists could be stored in a memory palace, and if the information in this memory palace is stored into permanent memory not affected by short term memory loss, bingo! Maybe you don’t need written lists everywhere anymore!

Your real problem could be to remember to go into your memory palace to find out what to do next :frowning:


Yes, remembering to use a memory palace is a key problem that I think many face. It is matched by remembering to actually use memorization techniques. Many of the people I talk to about memory techniques or have taught never actually use the techniques, but instead fall back on some new version of rote memorization.

Anyhow, I definitely think that when used, short term memory could be improved in people with issues like this. But at the end of the day, it’s an organic dilemma. Can exercise restore damaged tissue if the exercise needed to restore the tissue has been rendered impossible by the damage?

From what I gather, no form of dementia can be fought back by exercising brain. While exercising is always good, and it might give you a few more days when you can operate like a healthy person, it’s all reduced to you having systems to fall back to when the ones you currently use are destroyed by the dementia. Short term memory weakening, you can compensate by committing stuff faster to long-term memory. Focus drifting, you can compensate by trying to act quicker so you can make whatever observations needed before you lose your concentration. The memory you store loses details faster than before, you can compensate by clever guesswork. While this compensation gives you extra days, it does absolutely nothing to actually fight back the disease. It just buys you time by making systems in your brain more redundant, so when one system inevitably fails, you can replace that system somehow.

So while I agree that you could get plenty of healthy days more by knowing memory techniques really well, and using them, it doesn’t actually stop or even slow down the disease.

I guess this is why we all need to enjoy the present moment - even if there is the danger that we won’t be able to remember the enjoyment further down the road.

Not unless…

It seems that short memory is easier to lose than long term memory: in many cases, people are stuck in the past. They remember songs from when they were young, they would remember what they did 30 years back, but don’t have any recollection of what they did 5 minutes ago.

  1. What if dementia first attacked areas of the brain that are used to store short term memory (which would explain why elderly people would still be able to remember things of another era).
  2. From what I have read since once month ago, it seems that people who use memorizing techniques show activation of other areas of their brains than people who use rote memory, hence the suggestion that they would store the information in other areas than where short term memory is stored.

So from the beginning, my question is: would it be possible to (by using memory palaces, for instance) store information directly into the long term memory area, by associating objects to locations (that are stored in long term memory)?

If this were possible, could one be able to store recent information in areas that could be less affected by dementia or other brain diseases? Hence doing something impossible: allowing people with short term memory loss (but with good long term memory) to remember recent information (because this recent information would be stored in the brains area affected to long term memory, that seems to be much more robust to brain diseases).

There is no brains exercising into all this: just hopefully be able to use other areas of the brains to store information, that, for an unknown reason, would be less affected by brain diseases… (if long term storage areas were as affected as short term storage areas, then why would patients be able to much better remember things that happened 20 years ago than things that happened 20mn ago ?)

The husband of a colleague of mine is neuro-psychiatrist, specializing on studying brain through magneto encephalograms…

I think he could test loci memorization techniques on some of his patients.

I’ll talk to him and report what he finds…


It’s a fascinating question, Zaphod. I look forward to hearing what this neuro-psychiatrist has to say on the matter.

It certainly seems plausible to me. After all, if a semi-truck accident causes a highway closure, this doesn’t mean that pedestrians and bicyclists can’t still get through. They just have to circumvent, or at worst, climb over the wreckage.

A bizarre example, perhaps, but maybe a viable one.

It’s a sad question and the answer is no. My granny tried pretty much everything in her demise. She was a new york times puzzle solver and sharp as a tack prior to the onset of the disease.

It’s kind of like asking if good diet and regular exercise is a cure for stage iv cancer. Sorry but no.

This thread is old.
Time may be one of the enemies of those suffering from dementia, or early onset dementia.

However, due to the studious efforts of some scientists and approximately 1,680 volunteers there may be some dietary help on the horizon.

This article, made me aware of the institutional effort to address the dementia/ Alzheimer issue:

The webpage below suggests that a study has been completed, and results might be available if interested persons contact the relevant USA government institutions:

Although the study was done in France, the scientific community in the US may have knowledge of the results.

It is also worth noting that after some more research, the Fish Oil Tablet brand I purchased, imported, and am currently using is verified by the U.S. Pharmocopeial Convention… (Google it)… and looks like this:

found here:

Please understand I am just sharing knowledge of the product I use, NOT suggesting anybody in our forum go out and purchase it. I fully understand that there are medical caveats (user beware) associated with taking this product.

Caveat example: “Be sure to check with your doctor if you take a blood thinner. Because
fish oil has a blood-thinning effect, there is the possibility of excessive bleeding in people
taking warfarin (Coumadin) or another blood thinner.”


All for your information,
Simple Guy.

My Greek grandmother Antigoni died this week, at age 86. (mom’s mom) She only got a mild dementia/Alzheimer in her last 2 years. But her autobiographical memory was still rather okay at times (not her factual memory though). During lifetime, she was mainly eating a mediterranean diet of fish, tomato salad, olive oil, butter, egg, feta cheese, bread , oranges, watermelon, spagghetti, lasagna, potatos, peppers, rice, beef,etc. Usually all cooked from scratch. She never took a food supplement, beside some pill for osteoporosis and another pill for heart-rhythm regulation in the last 5 years (not statins though). Rip Grandma.

I am struggling with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.

Binding memory to smells and tastes and music seems to help, those memories are not as vulnerable.

Learning new languages is a big help as each language is stored in a slightly different place in the brain. I have lost a vast amount of my vocabulary, I have lost entire languages and alphabets. If I become frustrated and angry, I can try to think in a different language, starting with a song, I am always calmer if I am not thinking in English.

I tutored a college student in computer science, specifically HTML, CSS, SQL and C++. Every one around me says that my long hours of tutoring made my mind more alert. Another college.student would play chess with me. I teach computer literacy at the senior activity center. I read to the cats at the humane society. I study the Bible with people for free.

A good diet, exercise, lots of socialization, strenuous study, singing, all help.

I was always fond of loci memorization techniques. I used to ride a motorcycle down an Arkansas state highway through a mountain pass that was covered in pea gravel, there were 12 curves in the road, I would leave memories at different places on the side of the road. I could then go back later and retrieve them. But it no longer works. The mountain pass has been paved and I do not remember it, I only remember how it made me feel. It just does not work any more.

I can remember feelings, food, and some music.

I use my computer and android phone to augment my memory, and to make sure I do not forget my meds or my meals.

I know that this is a losing battle but I will not give up.

Alzheimers is a terrible disease, and while there are ways to reduce the chances it will hit you, there’s no sure fire way to prevent it.

While using mnemonics would help someone with Alzheimers, it will still have an impact on your life. Still, it’s good to exercise your brain and your memory, since that has a proven impact on the chances the disease will hit you.

My mother succumbed to Lewy-bodies-type of dementia (very swiftly) and there are strokes on my father’s side of the family. I spoke with my doctor after a QEEG showed no Alzheimer’s in my brain. Nonetheless, my doctor suggested to me that I should take three capsules daily of fish oil as there is some study hinting it may delay dementia. I take the fish oil.

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