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Poster E8 - Sketchpad Series

Sketchnoting as a drawing-based memory encoding strategy in older adults

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Marya Nurgitz1, Adina Levi1,2, Myra Fernandes3, Morgan Barense4, Asaf Gilboa1,4, Gary R. Turner2; 1Rotman Research Institute, 2York University, 3University of Waterloo, 4University of Toronto

Memory consolidation is a hippocampally mediated process influenced by information encoding methods, and therefore can be strategically enhanced. Drawing is one such example, and engages non-hippocampally mediated processes via the amalgamation of motor, visual and verbal information. This multimodal memory trace facilitates enhanced encoding and can strengthen recall and recognition memory for patients with hippocampal damage when compared to writing encoding methods. Given these findings, we hypothesized that older adults experiencing age-related memory decline due to changes in hippocampal structure and function could benefit from drawing as a mnemonic aid. We trained healthy older adults to use sketchnoting (a drawing technique) to improve daily memory performance through a 6-week training program in which they learned sketchnoting techniques and encoded naturalistic auditory information (i.e., autobiographical podcasts). Participants were randomly assigned to a sketchnoting or written control encoding modality to record podcast content, and completed immediate and delayed memory tests. Preliminary results revealed that sketchnoting improved delayed memory performance, but gains did not surpass those observed with written note-taking. Furthermore, participants demonstrated greater retention of information over time only when sketchnoting, with about one third of participants experiencing delayed memory gains. This may suggest a skill acquisition phase that precedes an improved consolidation phase for multimodal information. Such delayed improvement and retention findings may be explained by the elaborative and multimodal nature of drawing, and its ability to utilize non-hippocampally meditated processes in older adults with normal decreases in hippocampal volume.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Development & aging


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April 13–16  |  2024