ESSEX researchers believe we can do things to mitigate memory loss as we get older.

Memory expert Dr Vanessa Loaiza, from Essex University, has found contrary to popular belief, it is not all downhill as we age.

She found in some circumstances older people can remember things just as well as younger people.

“Previous research has shown it is our source memory – information about the contextual details of an event – which declines as we get older," she said.

"So for example, we may remember having a conversation with someone, but the details of where and when that conversation took place escapes us.

“Previously it was thought the decline was pretty much universal, but we have shown that while older people struggle with arbitrary source information when it comes to more meaningful source information, there is no difference between younger and older adults.

“This suggests that if we did extra things to try to remember information to make it more meaningful, there’s a better chance we would be successful.”

Dr Loaiza worked with Essex colleague Professor Geoff Ward and their French colleagues Gabriel Jarjat, Sophie Portrat and Pascal Hot on the research which has been published in the Journal of Gerontology.

The research was supported by the Experimental Psychology Society.

Dr Loaiza is now carrying out further research into what strategies would effectively help older people improve their memory.