Study: Little electrical shocks to the brain improve memory?
According to US researchers, bringing a small shock in a person’s brain just before they discovered a new task seemed to strengthen memory in a handful of patients with epilepsy, a tantalizing result that could have implications for Alzheimer’s disease.
Pacemaker devices which are also known to be deep brain stimulators created by Medtronic and St. Jude Medical are already utilized to relax muscle tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, and are being tested for a host of other conditions such as treatment-resistant depression.
The machines are implanted under the skin in the chest with wires all the way to the neck connected to tiny electrodes implanted deep in the brain, which generate electrical impulses.
The new study was done at the University of California at Los Angeles to seven epileptic patients who had electrodes implanted deep in their brains to help identify the source of their seizures. The team grabbed this opportunity to leaarn how stimulating the brain affects memory.
They focused on an area of the brain called the entorhinal cortex, which helps form and store memories.