An Electric Signal Boosts Short-Term Memory

According to a report published in Nature Neuroscience, electrical stimulation improved the retrieval of words in people over 65.

The electrical signals were sent to two regions of the brain associated with storing and recalling information.

A study provides evidence that using low amounts of electricity can improve memory. Richard Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic in the Center for Brain Health at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine, says the study was pivotal.

Said Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a Harvard Medical School professor of neurology: There was an apparently beneficial effect on immediate word recall in those with mild cognitive impairment. This preliminary, but promising, finding indicates that more study of bioelectronic approaches for Alzheimer’s Disease is warranted.

Isaacson and Tanzi were not involved in the research.

Tanzi says “The study shows modest but significant improvements in short-term memory, but not a clear effect on long-term memory since the test was based on word recall only a minute or two after learning the words.”

Until recently, scientists believed the brain could not grow or change. It is now said that it has plasticity, or the ability to reorganize its structure, functions, or connections throughout a person’s lifetime.

Shrey Grover, a postdoctoral student in the brain, behavior and cognition program at Boston University, said, brain cells are activated at specific time points, and that is defined by the frequency of the (electrical) stimulation.

“The consequence of changing the timings at which certain neurons in the brain are activated is that it induces this process of plasticity. It will carry forward the effects even when the stimulation has ended, he added.”

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