A new research published in the journal Current Biology discovered an innovative way to boost memory. This method implies short pulses of electricity administered at strict intervals of time. It can also be beneficial for people with memory impairment or who are suffering from different brain conditions.
Michael Kahana, the lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to find a way to help our memory reach peak performance all the time. The study is directed mostly to people who suffered brain injuries or who are struggling with certain diseases which affect their memory.
The research implies the electrical stimulation of the brain circuits
Researchers thought that, by stimulating the brain circuits, they might improve memory. Thus, they tested this method on epilepsy patients. Their treatment consisted of the implant of electrodes in their brains, so the researchers were able to administer the tiny electric pulses deep in the brain of the subjects.
Unfortunately, this experiment was not successful. Kahana declared that they were not able to improve the memory of these patients. On the contrary, they made things worse and impaired their memory. Thus, they started new tests to discover why this happened.
This time, they did not administer any electrical stimulation to the brain. They used the electrode implants to look at how the brain worked while the subjects were performing memory tests. Thus, they discovered certain electrical patterns in the brain which could indicate if a person could remember a thing or not.
The method works only for those with bad memory
After trying a new electrical stimulation experiment, they made an interesting discovery. This method yielded good results on a bad memory. In other words, bad memory is enhanced by electrical stimulation, but good memory might be impaired. So, this method is effective only for those who experience trouble remembering things.
If stimulation is administered exactly when people do not perform well in memory tests, at the optimal intensity and frequency, it might boost memory performance by 50 percent. This might help in the development of a prosthetic device for the brain which would help people with memory impairment.
This study received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). They hoped that the team of researchers would find a way to improve the memory of their troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with brain injuries.
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