Lab notes

Lab notes

1. Write it down

Researchers have advice for older adults who need to remember detailed written information: Don’t just read it, tell someone about it. That recommendation comes from a new UF study that showed that older adults who read a text and then described what they had read to someone else remembered more details of the text than older adults who simply re-read the passage multiple times. Older adults are better able than younger adults to recall the gist of information they learn, but they have more difficulty remembering details, said lead investigator Yvonne Rogalski, Ph.D., who conducted the research as part of her doctoral dissertation work at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions. The findings appeared in the April issue of the journal Aphasiology.

2. Risky business

It follows logically: If you are unable to predict how a decision might affect your life, your decisions may be more impulsive. New UF research in rats backs that up. Rats with impulsive tendencies tend to have poorer working memories. In humans, scientists define working memory as the ability to hold details like a name or phone number in mind. On the other hand, rats that avoided risky situations tended to have poor cognitive flexibility. By studying the rats’ behavior, the researchers are examining the ways impulsivity, working memory and cognitive flexibility may or may not interact. Published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, the research could provide animal models for people with mental disorders such as anorexia or addiction, said Kristy Shimp, a doctoral candidate in the lab of neuroscientist Barry Setlow, Ph.D.

3. Positive ID

Researchers have found a way to identify critically ill patients who are at risk of developing acute kidney injury — a potentially fatal and often asymptomatic condition. Their findings may be the first to validate two markers that can predict acute kidney injury 12 hours before the condition develops, said Azra Bihorac, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology, medicine and surgery. Acute kidney injury, also called acute renal failure, occurs when the kidneys stop working sufficiently, allowing waste products to build up in the blood. Bihorac estimates that up to 35 percent of critically ill patients develop acute kidney injury in the intensive care unit. In high-risk groups, such as older adults or people with a history of kidney disease, the percentage may be even higher.