A Tingling Idea

A mild dose of electricity might improve memory in older people, according to an article on the U.S. News & World Report website. Working memory declines as we age because brain regions fall out of sync with each other.

Researchers at Boston University devised a special EEG cap that delivers
electrical stimulation to the neocortex and frontal lobes to synchronize brain waves, which play a big role in working memory. They tested the caps, which produce a slight tingling sensation, in 42 participants age 54–76 who were asked to perform working memory activities on separate days, sometimes with the cap and sometimes without it.

With the caps delivering electrical stimulation, participants’ working memory improved to the level of a control group of adults 20–29. The scientists tracked participants for about 50 minutes after the electrical delivery, but believe the results last longer. Electrical stimulation is already used on patients with Parkinson’s disease, but doctors caution that more research is necessary before anyone can walk into an office and get a dose to the brain to improve his or her working memory.

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