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Study: Brain stimulation can work–if properly timed

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Elec­tri­cal Stim­u­la­tion To Boost Mem­o­ry: Maybe It’s All In The Tim­ing (NPR):

Peo­ple with a brain injury or demen­tia often strug­gle to remem­ber sim­ple things, like names or places. In research pub­lished Thurs­day in the jour­nal Cur­rent Biol­o­gy, sci­en­tists have shown it may be pos­si­ble to improve this sort of mem­o­ry using tiny puls­es of elec­tric­i­ty — if they’re prop­er­ly timed…They tried the approach with a group of patients who had severe epilep­sy.

These peo­ple already had elec­trodes tem­porar­i­ly implant­ed in their brains as part of their treat­ment. And that gave the sci­en­tists a way to deliv­er tiny puls­es of elec­tric­i­ty to areas deep in the brain…

When mem­o­ry was pre­dict­ed to be poor,” he explains, “brain stim­u­la­tion enhanced mem­o­ry, and when it was pre­dict­ed to be good, brain stim­u­la­tion impaired mem­o­ry.”

In oth­er words, on a bad mem­o­ry day, stim­u­la­tion helped. On a good day, it hurt.

When stim­u­la­tion was deliv­ered to the right place at the right time, the researchers found, it could improve mem­o­ry per­for­mance among the patients by as much as 50 per­cent.”

 

The Study

Direct Brain Stim­u­la­tion Mod­u­lates Encod­ing States and Mem­o­ry Per­for­mance in Humans (Cur­rent Biol­o­gy)

  • Sum­ma­ry: Peo­ple often for­get infor­ma­tion because they fail to effec­tive­ly encode it. Here, we test the hypoth­e­sis that tar­get­ed elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion can mod­u­late neur­al encod­ing states and sub­se­quent mem­o­ry out­comes. Using record­ings from neu­ro­sur­gi­cal epilep­sy patients with intracra­nial­ly implant­ed elec­trodes, we trained mul­ti­vari­ate clas­si­fiers to dis­crim­i­nate spec­tral activ­i­ty dur­ing learn­ing that pre­dict­ed remem­ber­ing from for­get­ting, then decod­ed neur­al activ­i­ty in lat­er ses­sions in which we applied stim­u­la­tion dur­ing learn­ing. Stim­u­la­tion increased encod­ing-state esti­mates and recall if deliv­ered when the clas­si­fi­er indi­cat­ed low encod­ing effi­cien­cy but had the reverse effect if stim­u­la­tion was deliv­ered when the clas­si­fi­er indi­cat­ed high encod­ing effi­cien­cy. High­er encod­ing-state esti­mates from stim­u­la­tion were asso­ci­at­ed with greater evi­dence of neur­al activ­i­ty linked to con­tex­tu­al mem­o­ry encod­ing. In iden­ti­fy­ing the con­di­tions under which stim­u­la­tion mod­u­lates mem­o­ry, the data sug­gest strate­gies for ther­a­peu­ti­cal­ly treat­ing mem­o­ry dys­func­tion.

 

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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