The Method of Loci, Memory Training, and Cancer Survivors

method-of-loci
(Josh Cohen) #1

There was a previous article about Chemotherapy and Memory Palaces (as an attempt to counteract “chemo brain”), and I’ve just found a study that tested the method of loci with breast cancer survivors.

tl;dr “The main study findings were that both memory and speed of processing training improved objective measures of cognitive performance. Importantly, we also noted significant improvements in perceived cognitive function, symptom distress (mood disturbance, anxiety, and fatigue) and quality of life of breast cancer survivors in the cognitive training groups compared to wait-list control.

The full text and a summary are below.

The techniques included the story method and memory palaces.

Memory training was adapted from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) trial. Memory training involved teaching participants strategies for remembering word lists, sequences, and text material by learning how to apply principles of meaningfulness, organization, visualization, and association. Strategies included multiple mnemonic techniques including visual memory support, story mnemonic, and method of loci.

The training seemed enjoyable.

Acceptability/satisfaction

There were no differences in satisfaction/acceptability between the memory and speed of processing groups. The majority in both the memory and speed of processing groups found the training to be highly satisfactory at 73 and 89 %, respectively. Similarly, participants in both intervention groups (memory, speed) agreed or strongly agreed that the program was understandable (96, 89 %) and enjoyable (81, 73 %). Most disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would have preferred something else (80, 81 %), wanted a different format (100, 96 %), was too difficult (77, 89 %), took too much time (92, 100 %), or that the training was boring (96, 100 %).

The results seemed promising.

Discussion

To our knowledge, this was the largest cognitive training study in long-term breast cancer survivors to date. The main study findings were that both memory and speed of processing training improved objective measures of cognitive performance. Importantly, we also noted significant improvements in perceived cognitive function, symptom distress (mood disturbance, anxiety, and fatigue) and quality of life of breast cancer survivors in the cognitive training groups compared to wait-list control. Similar findings were noted by Ferguson et al. [14], who tested the efficacy of an attention and memory program ( n = 19) against wait-list control ( n = 21) in long-term breast cancer survivors, and found statistically significant improvements in memory and some quality of life indicators (spirituality). Taken together, findings suggest that cognitive training may be a promising intervention for treating cognitive deficits in breast cancer survivors.

As predicted, we noted cognitive domain-specific intervention effects; that is memory training improved memory performance and speed of processing improved processing speed. There was significant improvement in immediate and delayed memory in the memory training group at the 2-month follow-up. Unlike other cognitive studies [10, 11], the memory training intervention did not demonstrate significant effects post-intervention. However, the percentage of participants demonstrating reliable improvement in immediate memory was comparable to the ACTIVE trial (23 vs. 26 %) [10].

See also, The Method of Loci and Depression.

Let me know what you think.

1 Like