In trial, Brain Zaps gave seniors a month of extra memory – Consumer Health News


MONDAY, August 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — If you’re a senior who has trouble remembering where you put your car keys, could you non-invasive brain stimulation boost your memory?

Yes, claim a new one study which found that people treated with transcranial alternating current stimulation for four consecutive days showed greater improvement in their ability to remember things than people who had a sham procedure. The effect seemed to last for weeks.

“The effects were moderate to large, and an overwhelming majority of people experienced improvements in memory,” study author Robert Reinhart said during a recent press briefing on the results. Reinhart is director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory at Boston University.

For the study, 150 adults aged 65 to 88 received treatment targeting their short-term memory, long-term memory, or a placebo procedure. Most were experiencing normal age-related memory declines. No one in the study had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants in the active treatment groups wore a shower cap with embedded electrodes that was hooked up to a brain stimulation device that emits weak electrical currents through the electrodes. Each session lasted 20 minutes, and people were asked to listen and then immediately recall five 20-word lists during the treatment.

These electrical currents stimulate areas of the brain that have lost their rhythm, Reinhart explained.

“Cells that fire together connect and thus transmit information over time [improving memory]”Said Reinhart. “Pulling together highlights the importance of timing in the brain for successful memory and neuroplasticityand our brain stimulation protocol is designed to alter the rhythm of brain activity like the conductor of a symphony organizes the sounds of different instruments.”

People who received the brain stimulation remembered more words with each passing day, and the benefits lasted for a month, he said. “They improved by about 50% to 65% by day four compared to the sham/placebo group, which equates to four to six additional words recalled,” Reinhart said.

Interestingly, people with the lowest cognitive performance at the start of the study showed the greatest benefits from brain stimulation.

The study showed that the degree of memory improvement during treatment predicted benefits one month later. More research is needed to determine if these gains last longer, Reinhart said.

Treatment can be tailored to specific memory deficits, he added. Based on previous research, Reinhart and his colleagues targeted two specific brain regions with two distinct stimulation frequencies.

“Target the brain inferior parietal lobule may improve recall of words from the end of the list – or storage in working memory – while targeting the brain prefrontal cortex improved recall of words at the start – mirroring long-term memory,” Reinhart said.

The good news is that there aren’t many side effects, study co-author Shrey Grover, a doctoral student in brain, behavior and cognition at Boston University, said at the conference. hurry. “People may experience itching and tingling at the start and end of treatment,” he noted.

However, much more research is needed before this technology is ready for prime time.

“These brain stimulation technologies are relatively new, and the present study is among the first to show such improvements,” Reinhart said. “The results should be replicated in larger samples and once the effects are consistently observed, this type of treatment could be combined with existing treatments and integrated into a clinical setting.”

Studies are also examining the use of this technology to treat schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Reinhart said. It may also help boost memory and performance in people without any known deficits.

If further research confirms these benefits, the technology could be part of a multi-faceted approach to treating age-related memory loss, Grover noted.

“Any effort to stay cognitively engaged is always welcome and definitely something we should be doing regardless,” Grover said. This includes staying engaged mentally, socially and physically.

“This technology could be added to things people are already doing to stay engaged, for more synergistic effects,” Grover said.

The results were published on August 22 in the journal Natural neuroscience.

Brain cells communicate through a combination of electrical and chemical signals, explained Meriel Owen, associate director of scientific affairs at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in New York.

The drugs target chemical signals, while the new technology targets electrical signals, she explained.

“This kind of technology is promising, and several small studies have shown positive results with different neuromodulatory approaches,” said Owen, who reviewed the new study.

“The benefit is that it’s non-invasive, very safe and you can potentially buy your own device and use it at home, hopefully in conjunction with a treatment plan from a doctor,” he said. she declared. “It may not be the silver bullet, but it could be part of our arsenal of tools that prevent cognitive decline.”

More information

The Alzheimer’s Association offers advice to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

SOURCES: Robert Reinhart, PhD, assistant professor, psychological and brain sciences, director, Cognitive & Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory, Boston University; Shrey Grover, PhD Candidate, Brain, Behavior and Cognition, Boston University; Meriel Owen, PhD, Associate Director, Scientific Affairs, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, New York; Natural neuroscienceAugust 22, 2022

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