Electric current to the brain ‘REVERSE memory loss

PAINLESS brain stimulation was successful in reversing memory loss in OAP, study finds.

The revolutionary technique could one day help stop the effects of dementia, the researchers hope.


Painless electrical currents in the brain can help reverse memory loss – and could one day be used to treat dementia, scientists revealCredit: Getty – Contributor

Repair faulty circuits

It uses a gentle electric current to reconnect “faulty circuits” in the brain.

In the first trials, scientists at Boston University were able to increase the working memory of older participants to match that of people in their twenties.

Working memory is necessary for problem solving, reasoning and decision making.

The effect lasted for at least 50 minutes after treatment, but scientists suspect the improvement continues for hours.

Paving the way for new treatments

Lead researcher Robert Reinhart said loss of brain power is part of normal aging.

And claims it may be due to the disconnection of specific brain circuits – something the new technique is helping to address.

Professor Reinhart said: “These results are important – because they not only give us new information … but they also show us that negative age-related changes [to the brain] are not immutable.

“We can bring back more of the superior working memory function that you had when you were much younger.

“The deficit in working memory… is really at the heart of many brain disorders, from schizophrenia to autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our hope is that this work will help lay the groundwork for basic science for a whole new avenue of research where we develop non-invasive tools to help treat [these] people.”

1 million Britons suffer from dementia

Around 850,000 Britons currently suffer from dementia – and the figure is expected to rise to one million within a decade.

There is currently no cure, although some medications can limit symptoms.

The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, involved 84 participants. Half were in their twenties and the other half in their sixties and sixties.

Scientists tested their working memory before and after 25 minutes of electrical stimulation, using caps with integrated electrodes.

They adapted the treatment to the “sweet spot” of each individual according to the frequency of their brain waves.

Brain boost

The team found that older adults’ working memory improved to resemble that of younger adults.

Commenting on the study, Dr Vladimir Litvak, of the Wellcome Center for Human Neuroimaging at University College London, said: older adults and bring it to a range comparable to younger ones.

But there was no evidence that the technique stimulated recall in older people – who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Litvak also warned that the participants were all in good health, so it’s not clear whether the brain stimulation could counteract the damage caused by dementia.

Commenting on the study, Dr James Pickett, director of research at the Alzheimer Society, said, “We cannot cure, prevent or even slow down dementia, so it is essential to explore all possible areas of treatment.

“This study is interesting because it suggests that this non-invasive technique using electrical stimulation can improve working memory in older people.

“However, this research did not investigate whether it might also be helpful for people with dementia.”

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Maude J. Weber

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