Electrical brain stimulation revives working memory in older adults

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Non-invasive electrical brain stimulation has already seen plenty of promising use in potentially treating neurological conditions such as depression, OCD, chronic pain, etc. Now, a recent study released by researcher Rob Reinhart at Boston University seems to suggest non-invasive electrical brain stimulation could also revert working memory functionality of older adults back 50 years!

It is widely believed that cognitive/working memory decline is facilitated by the persistent but eventual disconnect between local and long-range neural circuits in the brain, which can be visualized by deterioration overtime in theta-gamma phase amplitude coupling functionality in the temporal cortex, and deterioration overtime of theta phase synchronization across the frontotemporal cortex.

In the study, adults in the age range of 60-76 years were treated with noninvasive stimulation meant to modulate the aforementioned long-range theta interactions; during the 25 minutes of stimulation, the frequency of stimulation was tuned and personalized to the individual’s brain network dynamics. As a result, working memory was drastically improved for the next 50 minutes post-stimulation in these older adults to the point where there was virtually no performance gap between the older adults and a younger group of subjects in a working memory test. It was found that this type of stimulation was even able to boost the working memory performance of younger adults that also had trouble with working memory.

This monumental publication may just be showing us a glimpse into whats to come for non-invasive neuromodulation. Perhaps one day, these forms of stimulation will be commonplace as a means of not only treating neurocognitive deterioration, but also as a form of cognitive enhancement in everyday individuals.

For more information, see the link to the publication below:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-019-0371-x