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USC research to aid fight against dementia

Helping men age successfully – and memorably – is the aim of a University of the Sunshine Coast research project that’s investigating why exercise might help to prevent memory loss conditions such as dementia.

Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) Honours student Kai Morris will assess oxygenation levels in the brain during three cognitive computer tasks, including playing computer games like Tetris, in males between 50 and 75 as part of his research.

“We’re looking to see whether physical activity influences the results of the cognitive computer tasks and establish if increased cerebral oxygenation is linked to physical activity and increased cognitive function,” Mr Morris said.

“We already know that exercise helps cognitive function, but we want to know why so we can attempt to isolate the contributing factors that lead to cognitive decline, such as memory loss.”

The Honours student is seeking male volunteers aged between 50 and 75 who are right-handed and right-eye dominant, not suffering from depression and haven’t had any recent surgery.

Psychology research supervisor Dr Geoff Lovell said that cognitive function often started to decline in men over 50.

“If you’re lucky, getting old is something you have to deal with,” Dr Lovell said.

“However, by the time memory loss is properly picked up and diagnosed as something potentially more sinister it’s often too late to do anything other than manage the condition.”

Dr Lovell said despite significant medical advancements in the field of memory loss, there was still no definitive cure for dementia.

“This project is ultimately about joining the medical dots to keep older men in good shape, physically and mentally, for as long as possible,” he said.

“It’s important to note that when we talk about exercise, we’re not suggesting that older people need to start running marathons. This is about being generally active every day, whether it is a walk along the beach or doing the gardening.”

“Simple things could make the later years of life more enjoyable and ultimately more memorable.”

Volunteers can email Mr Morris at:

— Terry Walsh

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