MedicalResearch.com Interview with
Joshua Sandry, Ph.D.
Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research
Kessler Foundation, West Orange, NJ
Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Sandry: We were interested in better understanding the relationship between cognitive reserve and long-term memory impairment in moderate to severe Traumatic Brain Injury, from a cognitive perspective. The theory of cognitive reserve suggests that individuals who engage in intellectually enriching activities may be less susceptible to the negative cognitive consequences of long-term memory impairment that often accompanies neurological disorders. There’s significant evidence in support of cognitive reserve; however, it’s somewhat unclear what particular cognitive processes are involved in this relationship and how those cognitive processes may differ across high and low reserve individuals. We derived our predictions on the basis of well-established cognitive theory and found that working memory capacity partially mediates the cognitive reserve – long-term memory relationship in Traumatic Brain Injury. Or to put it another way, working memory may be one underlying cognitive process involved in this relationship. Importantly, this finding corroborates some recent related work we have conducted in multiple sclerosis.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Sandry: Our findings suggest that individual differences in working memory capacity are related to long-term memory impairment in persons with Traumatic Brain Injury. It’s still early and more work certainly needs to be conducted in this area; however, with additional research, this finding may have potential implications for treating memory decline accompanying brain injury, other neurological disorders and memory changes associated with aging.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Sandry: I think that we’ve demonstrated the value of translational cognitive research in understanding memory impairment by deriving and testing predictions generated from well-established cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience theory. There is much to be gained in the future from adopting this approach. For example, one important next step is to continue to disentangle what specific sub process of working memory are involved in this correlational relationship. Fortunately, the literature on working memory theory is quite rich and well developed. My opinion is that using a similar translational approach in the future might serve to accelerate both basic and applied research findings in this and related areas.
Joshua Sandry, John DeLuca, Nancy Chiaravalloti. Working memory capacity links cognitive reserve with long-term memory in moderate to severe TBI: a translational approach. Journal of Neurology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00415-014-7523-4