Sending small bursts of electricity to the brain in order to help with memory retention has already been previously dissected, and a new study suggests that this experimental therapy might be even more effective than formerly thought.
Neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated that electrical pulses to the brain can help restore memories, Gizmodo reports.
The study is one of the most comprehensive on how this kind of brain stimulation could potentially address and reduce symptoms of dementia. It could also help fight memory loss due to head injuries and similar brain injuries common in soldiers, especially those returning from traumatic experiences.
This initiative was funded by the Department of Defense called “Restoring Active Memory,” as part of a four-year project with the goal of developing a fully implantable device that is capable of restoring lost memory function.
Participants with epilepsy were recruited for the project, as epilepsy can affect memory. The participants were asked to undergo a series of memory tests, and were given stimulation in areas of their brain that were linked to memory building.
The researchers stimulated brains in high and low-functioning conditions. They found that while memory was better when electric jolts were sent in low-functioning states, the participants scored lower when the same was applied to high-functioning states.
Prior research on deep brain stimulation has been a mixed bag, the New York Times reports. While some researchers believe that electric stimulation improved memory, others thought it damaged the brain, instead.
The researchers theorize that their findings could be a good sign for something called a “closed loop treatment,” where brain implants are used to send electrical pulses only when the implants detect that stimulation would be useful. They are hopeful that their work could be used to help treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s, dementia and other brain conditions.
The study was published in Current Biology.