New Study To Reverse Memory Loss, But Is It A Let Down?

This article from the New York Time’s Health section covers a new study being tested that uses electronic stimulation to the brain in order to help fight memory loss.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/health/study-explores-electrical-stimulation-to-aid-memory.html?ref=health

Though the study, published in the The New England Journal of Medicine, is very intriguing, the results are still not concrete. The article explains the process of the study and the vast array of patients it could treat. The potential benefits of this type of treatment are enormous, but the article ends with hesitation. The author presses that the study is still premature. Do you think the kicker was a successful way to end the story, or did it make the study seem like a let down because of its inconclusive effects?

Do you think the author included too much information on the negatives of the study, rather than its potential positives? Could this information turn readers away?

Looking forward to your responses,

Emily Wilhelm

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About emilywilhelm

I am a Junior at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor majoring in Art & Design and minoring in Film.

5 Responses to “New Study To Reverse Memory Loss, But Is It A Let Down?”

  1. Due to the current state of the study, there didn’t seem to be many positive that the author could add. I think that the goal was to get the information out into the world to inform the public that this is being studied. The kicker wasn’t the best it could have been, but the author noted the next steps, so it is basically a “to be continued…” ending. It leaves the reader hanging, but by having the quote at the end, it is almost like saying “stay tuned”. I did think that the article was interesting overall and am curious to know if this will actually help patients with Alzheimers in the future.

  2. I think that the author of this piece did a great job of presenting this study in an even-handed manner. Yes, the author could have implied more strongly that the researchers had found a cure for dementia, but that would have been irresponsible. Often, coverage of a scientific finding will over-sell the implications of a study in an effort to liven up the news item. That practice is problematic because it creates unrealistic public expectations. People need to understand that promising initial laboratory results need to be followed by anatomical research as well as larger clinical trials. Relatives of those suffering from dementia should know not to hope to access this treatment for a few years, and general public familiarity with the scientific process is good for public support of scientific research. I do agree with Emily that the kicker is bizarre, and I think that the last two paragraphs could be flipped in order to end on a positive note while retaining the cautious tone of the piece.

  3. For me there was one blaring problem with the article, which was that in the beginning they talk about six participants, but then halfway through it mentions there were seven participants. As a reader I automatically questioned how accurate it was and where the mystery patient appeared.
    I think the way that the article ended is similar to the problem we heard about with the guest in class that in an interview, she shared her hesitation with a reporter and then that hesitation became the focal point. However, the way that the reporter handled it is appropriate to me. The reporter gave both sides the chance to say their piece and note that this is a break through, but more testing is needed, which both sides agree with. I also think she has good sources because they’re not all connected with the study, meaning hopefully unbiased.
    I think the article begins and ends readable by most audiences. The middle section gets a bit “jargon-y” but then the author brings it back. I think the author also included good information on who this could impact and why it’s important, which keeps readers attracted to the very end.
    (196)

    Lauren Blanchard

  4. In general, articles about scientific studies are usually biased to sound more successful than they might be. True, this may lead the public to develop unrealistic standards, but optimism about a study is key to get the public caring in the first place. This article was successful because it maintained optimism for the study while still mentioning its flaws. The author obviously took the time to interview many sources, which makes the article credible to the readers.

    Contrary to other responses, I thought the kicker was very appropriate. It focuses on the potential of studies that are similar to this one. The kicker acknowledges that the main concept of the study, stimulating the deep-brain, is promising, yet further studies need to narrow down and find the best location of stimulation and the best way to measure the effects. Dr. Black is simply stating the future research that needs to be done, which is a standard way to end scientific articles.

    Jonelle Doctor (160 words)

  5. Due to the amount of scientific terminology required for this piece, which is difficult to translate well into layman’s terms, I stand with the way the author handled the kicker. Because of the intended audience, I feel it may almost be necessary to report scientific results in a somewhat broader context. If they read a quote by some genius scientist with words they have actually heard before, the information becomes relatable. And if the author presented extremely conclusive evidence about this procedure, what would the general public make of it? Could it potentially change their lives?–This response has become a bit theoretical, but I think a future-thinking science piece drives one to think of these questions.-117

    Rachelle Hadley

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