Verbal short-term memory can be improved by sending low-intensity electrical stimulations to the brain, says a new study published in the neurology journal Brain.
Researchers from Mayo Clinic found that the word recall ability of the subjects was enhanced when low-intensity electrical signals were sent to the lateral temporal cortex of the brain. The lateral temporal cortex is located between the ears and the temple, which is the side of the head behind the eyes.
“The most exciting finding of this research is that our memory for language information can be improved by directly stimulating this underexplored brain area,” said study co-author Dr. Michal Kucewicz, a researcher at Mayo Clinic. He compares the stimulation to “tickling” the brain.
Technologies pertaining to memory loss are emerging on a daily basis. Its history dates back to 1990s. Today the store-houses are overstocked with devices that go beyond the budget of many suffering from memory issues. Most of the options available have a limited cure. “While electrical stimulation of the brain is emerging as a potential therapy for a wide range of neurological and psychiatric diseases, little is known about its effect on memory,” said senior study author Gregory Worrell, M.D. at Mayo Clinic.
22 patients undergoing evaluation for surgery to address seizures had participated in the study. The study was performed on four different areas of the cerebrum. The patients were asked to read a list of words appearing on screen one-at-a-time. At the same time, they were given electrical stimulation. They were then asked to recall the words in any order. Each patient was given the stimulation to one of the four areas of the brain being studied.
Results showed that the four patients who had their lateral temporal cortex stimulated, performed better than those with the other brain regions stimulated. “These findings may lead to new stimulation devices that treat deficits in memory and cognition,” said study author Jamie Van Gompel, M.D. at Mayo Clinic.