Scientists from Boston University in the US have discovered they can boost an individual’s memory for at least a month by stimulating parts of the brain with electricity.
The findings provide a glimmer of hope for people suffering from typical ‘older age’ conditions such as memory decline and Alzheimer’s.
The research group found that individuals performed better in word memory games after the treatment, with distinct improvements in both instant memory and in the longer term.
The stimulation technique used has been described as “an entirely different approach to isolating and augmenting parts of the brain.”
Dr Robert Reinhart, from Boston University, also said the treatment: “could cause selective memory improvement that lasts for at least one month,” and had the potential to develop into an entirely new realm of treatment options.
People on the trial wore a cap filled with electrodes. A controlled electrical current, which feels similar to an itch or a tingle, was then used to precisely alter brainwaves in targeted regions of the brain. The volunteers underwent 20 minutes of stimulation daily for four days in a row. Throughout the study they had to memorise lists of words, which they were again asked to recall one month later.
The results, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed those volunteers who were struggling with the memory games at the beginning of the experiment were those whose memory improved the most.