Electrical brain stimulation can boost memory function in older people

Author: 
Reuters
ID: 
1554773504587363000
Mon, 2019-04-08 17:58

LONDON: Electrical brain stimulation using a non-invasive cap
can help boost older people’s mental scores to those of people 20
to 30 years younger, according to a study published on Monday.
The research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found
that age-related decline in working memory can be reversed by
stimulating two key brain areas at a specific rhythm.
The findings are early and only relate to healthy volunteers at
this stage, but could point to new ways to boost brain function in
people with age-related cognitive decline such as dementia and
Alzheimer’s patients.
Using a technique known as electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor
brain activity and a another called transcranial
alternating-current stimulation (tACS), the scientists stimulated
the brains of a group of young and old people and were able to
modulate the brainwave interactions linked to their working
memory.
The study involved 42 younger adults aged 20 to 29 and 42 older
adults aged 60 to 76, who were all assessed for their performance
in a working-memory task.
Working memory refers to information retained temporarily for use
in immediate tasks such as reasoning and making decisions.
Without brain stimulation, the older people were slower and less
accurate than the younger ones.
This was because the younger ones had higher levels of interaction
and synchronization of certain brain wave rhythms, the researchers
said — suggesting that targeting these types of rhythms in the
older people’s brains might help their function.
While receiving active brain stimulation, older adults improved
their working-memory test scores to the levels of the younger
people. The effect lasted for at least 50 minutes after the
stimulation was given, said Robert Reinhart, a researcher at Boston
University in the United States who co-led the study.
“By using this type of stimulation (we found) we can reconnect or
resynchronize those circuits,” he told reporters in a telephone
briefing.
Reinhart said that the findings opened up new avenues for research
but had no immediate implications for use in medicine: “Much more
basic science has to be done first.”
Neuroscientists agreed that the findings raised interesting
questions about how working memory functions, and how it declines
with age, but that it would need more research before being
developed for clinical use.

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Source: *FS – All – Science News Net
Electrical brain stimulation can boost memory function in older people