Zapping the brain with just a bit of electricity at the right time may help to improve memory function in some people, according to a new study.
The findings of the study, which was conducted in patients with epilepsy, may one day help researchers develop technologies that could aid people with memory loss stemming from such diseases as Alzheimer’s, the researchers said.
Based on the data, the scientists identified patterns of brain activity that signaled that a person’s memory was functioning well, and other patterns that signaled his or her memory was functioning poorly.
The scientists then conducted another experiment, in which they delivered pulses of electrical stimulation to the study participants’ brains while they were trying to memorize lists of words. This time around, the scientists discovered that, when they delivered the stimulation during times of good memory function, the participants’ memory got worse. But when they delivered it during times of poor memory function, their memory improved.
“On average, we got a 13 percent improvement across the group,” [said Michael Kahana, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania].
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