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Electrical stimulation of the brain can reverse memory loss

Electrical stimulation of the brain can reverse memory loss


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Improved memory performance through electrical stimulation?

Especially in old age, our memory gets worse. Researchers have now found that electrical stimulation can improve memory in older people. After such treatment, memory is said to function as well as in people who are decades younger.

A recent study by Northwestern University in Illinois found that electrical stimulation of a specific part of the brain improved memory in older people. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Neurology".

Electrical stimulation of the brain improves memory

The stimulation of a certain part of the brain of people over the age of 64 with normal age-related memory loss caused the memory performance to increase again. The treatment even worked so well that at the end of the study there was no difference in the test results from younger healthy adults and older participants, the researchers report. The results are the latest in a long line of medical studies exploring the benefits of electrical stimulation in the brain. The current study looked at the effects of using electrical current on the hippocampus of the brain.

There was a significant improvement in memory

It was a relatively small study in which only 16 subjects took part, who were between 64 and 80 years old. The participants reported typical memory problems for their age. After five days of treatment, in which her brain was stimulated with weak electrical current for 20 minutes a day, her memory was again comparable to that of younger people. The memory of the elderly improved to the level that it was indistinguishable from the memory of younger healthy people, the study authors write in a press release. So there was a significant improvement.

Results from young and older people were equally good

Before the electrical therapy used, which is also known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), the participants did 15 percent worse than 18- to 34-year-olds in memory tests. The participants achieved a result of 40 percent in computer-assisted tasks on fixed relationships between objects. Younger people had a 55 percent result in a previous study. After the electrical stimulation, however, both results were equally good.

Activities in the brain are controlled by electrical impulses

Transcranial magnetic stimulation increased activity in the so-called parietal lobe, which controls the hippocampus. The hippocampus influences functions such as the creation of new memories, learning and emotional control. All activities in the brain, including the formation and retrieval of memories, are controlled by electrical impulses. Disrupting or reducing these electrical signals can affect a person's ability to create new memories or remember old ones.

Electric current can synchronize brain waves

A Boston University study published this month in Nature Neuroscience found that older people's brain waves between two parts of the brain that control short-term memory may not be rhythm. If certain areas of the brain, the temporal lobes and the prefrontal cortex were stimulated with electrical current, the brain waves could be synchronized, which could improve memory formation, the researchers said. Alzheimer's disease occurs when proteins accumulate in the brain and cause nerve damage. Here, the search for new ways to promote activity in the brain, which continues to decrease in dementia patients, could help to restore function or slow the memory decline.

Treatment also improved short-term memory in younger people

In the study published last year, the researchers tested the same therapy, which was carried out with a metal spiral against the scalp, on 16 patients under the age of 34 without memory problems. The study data were used for comparison in the current study. Participants' ability to remember details in photos improved after treatment for at least 24 hours after the procedure. The study's authors are unsure how long the effects could last. However, they hope that this new type of treatment can be tested on people with mild cognitive impairments, a precursor to Alzheimer's disease. (as)

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