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Editor's Note
 
Memory News
Fatty food weighs down muscles and memory
 
Pumping Neurons: Exercise to maintain a healthy brain
The evidence is growing that moderate regular exercise boosts memory and other brain functions and may help prevent age-related declines.
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How Parkinsonís disease affects the mind

It’s not just a movement disorder. Besides causing tremors and other motion-related symptoms, Parkinson’s disease affects memory, learning, and behavior.

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Creative healing: art therapy for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
As medical science races to cure dementia, storytelling and other creative activities promise a better quality of life for the millions already diagnosed.
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Memory Tip
Medicate Your Memory
Glossary
Randomization
 

Randomization is a practice used to assign subjects to experimental groups in a research study.

For example, consider a fictitious research study meant to compare the effectiveness of a new drugs for reducing blood pressure. The researchers will recruit a number of participants or subjects, making every attempt to make sure the participants are as similar as possible (similar medical histories, similar pre-existing blood pressure, etc.). Then the researchers will randomly assign each subject to either the experimental or the control group -- for example, by flipping a coin. Subjects in the experimental group will take the new drug for a number of weeks; subjects in the control group will take an inactive compound or placebo for comparison. At the end of some period, the researchers will then test blood pressure in all subjects, to see if those subjects who took the new drug have lower blood pressure, on average, than subjects who took the placebo. If so, this would imply that the new drug is effective for lowering blood pressure.

The practice of randomization is one way to help make sure that there are no preexisting differences between the subjects in each group. That way, any differences in blood pressure at the end of the study can reasonably be attributed to the effects of the drug being evaluated -- and not to some inadvertent bias on the part of the researcher for assigning people to one group or the other. Well-designed research studies, particularly clinical trials of new drugs, usually employ randomization, placebo controls and double-blind techniques.

Further Reading: "Putting Ginkgo to the Test"

by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain