Long-lasting memory boosts achieved with simple brain stimulation

Researchers have discovered they can stimulate different brain regions non-invasively with weak electrical currents to improve short and long-term memory.

1 minute & 10 seconds read time

A study on the brain stimulation titled "Long-lasting, dissociable improvements in working memory and long-term memory in older adults with repetitive neuromodulation" has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Long-lasting memory boosts achieved with simple brain stimulation 01

Researchers from the University in Massachusetts have used weak electrical currents to repeatedly zap the brains of adults over 65 over several days, demonstrating improvements in memory that lasted for up to one month. Their research builds on previous studies that suggest that separate brain regions handle long-term and working (short-term) memory.

Stimulating a region near the front of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with high-frequency electricity improved long-term memory. At the same time, the inferior parietal lobe, found further back in the brain, was best stimulated by low-frequency electricity to produce improvements in working memory. The brain was electrically stimulated using a non-invasive method called transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), which places electrodes on the scalp to deliver electrical currents.

Experiments were carried out on 150 individuals ranging from 65 and 88 years old. Participants were asked to recall lists of 20 words read aloud by an experimenter while their brains were stimulated as part of a memory task that lasted about 20 minutes.

Following four days of this, those who received stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex had improved recollection of the words at the beginning of the list, which required longer-term memory. Those who received stimulation of the inferior parietal lobe had improved working memory, demonstrated by the improved recollection of words later in the list.

You can read more from the study here.

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NEWS SOURCES:nature.com, doi.org

Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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