As we age, our memory worsens and since the human population’s average age is getting older rapidly, scientists have been trying to find solutions for this issue, attempting to keep us functioning for longer and to keep Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay in our later years.
That being said, according to a new study, there might be a new, non-invasive method that can do just that – electrical stimulation of the brain!
Apparently, by doing this, the effects of growing older can be combated, allowing people to keep memory circuits in top shape for as long as possible.
The method involves mild electrical stimulation applied through a cap with electrodes attached to it.
It is also known as transcranial alternating current stimulation or tACS and is apparently able to synchronize the brain waves, which is what improves memory and wards off degenerative brain diseases during our later years.
The experiments were conducted by Boston University researchers and involved 20 minutes of stimulation per day for 4 consecutive days which seemed to be enough to improve two types of memory function, the improvements lasting for one month or more.
There were 150 people involved in the experiments, ages between 65 and 88.
While receiving electrical brain stimulation, they were also asked to hear and then recall a total of 5 lists containing 20 words each.
At this point, more research is needed and depending on the results, it could lead to super efficient methods for keeping the mind sharp all our lives and also eliminating memory issues.
The research team writes in their paper that “Our findings demonstrate that the plasticity of the aging brain can be selectively and sustainably exploited using repetitive and highly focalized neuromodulation.”
It turns out that those who registered the worst levels of cognitive performance prior to the electrical stimulation were also the ones who registered bigger improvements in memory recall which also lasted the longest!
Tara Spires-Jones, a brilliant neuroscientist at the University of Edinburgh shared via The Guardian that “This is really promising work, and it shows how amazingly flexible and adaptable the brain is.”
Shrey Grover, a cognitive neuroscientist from Boston University also told Nature in a separate interview that “We are hoping we can extend upon this work in more meaningful ways and contribute with more information about how the brain works.”