Electromagnets Improve Specific Memory

New research into Brain stimulation has shown it can be used to stimulate specific parts of the brain to improve precise memory functions.

Precise memory is different to general memory and is critical for knowing fine details such as the specific colours, shapes, and locations.

This type of memory is crucial for normal functioning, and is often impaired in people with serious memory disorders.

“We show that it is possible to target the portion of the brain responsible for this type of memory and to improve it,” says Joel Voss, assistant professor of medical social sciences at North-western University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study in Current Biology. “People with brain injuries have problems with precise memory as do individuals with dementia, and so our findings could be useful in developing new treatments for these conditions.”

The researchers discovered that by stimulating the brain network responsible for spatial memory with powerful electromagnets, improved the precision of people’s memory for identifying locations.

This changes in test subjects lasted for 24 hours after receiving stimulation and corresponded to changes in brain activity.

“We improved people’s memory in a very specific and important way a full day after we stimulated their brains,” Voss says.

The research further develops the scientific understanding of how memory can be improved using non-invasive stimulation.

Previous studies of brain stimulation have found only slight general and short-lived effects on cognitive abilities, rather than specific and long-lasting effects on an ability such as precise memory.

The scientists used MRI to identify specific memory-related brain networks then stimulated them with electromagnetic stimulation.

Detailed memory tests were used to show that this improved spatial precision memory, and EEG was used to show that these memory improvements corresponded to indicators of improved brain network function.

The National Institutes of Health provided support.

Source: Northwestern University


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