Electrically stimulating the brain improved immediate recall of words in people over 65, a report published in Nature Neuroscience says.
The electrical signals were sent to two parts of the brain involved in storing and recalling information.
The study “provides important evidence that stimulating the destilasi brain with small amounts of electrical current is safe and can also 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, told CNN.
“There was an apparently beneficial effect on immediate word recall in those with mild cognitive impairment,” said neuroscientist Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “This preliminary but promising finding warrants more exploration of the use of bioelectronic approaches for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.”
Neither Isaacson nor Tanzi was involved in the research.
“The study mainly shows modest but significant improvement in short-term memory, but does not show clear effects on long-term memory since the test was based on word recall only a minute or so after learning the words,” Tanzi said.
Scientists previously believed that the brain could not grow or change. But now, they say it is capable of plasticity, or the ability to reorganize its structure, functions or connections throughout a person’s life.
In the Nature Neuroscience study, brain cells “(are) activated at specific time points, and that is defined by the frequency of the (electrical) stimulation,” said study coauthor Shrey Grover, a postdoctoral student in the brain, behavior and cognition program at Boston University.
“The consequence of changing the timings at which brain cells activate is that it induces this process of plasticity. The plasticity is what allows the effects to be carried forward in time even when the stimulation has ended,” he added.