A new test reported in Nature Communications, a scientific journal, has provided evidence that a brain implant designed similar to a pacemaker can provide a notable boost to memory. This still experimental treatment could be a major breakthrough for Alzheimer’s Disease patients and other sufferers of brain trauma or serious head injuries.
Through electrical stimulation, the brain is sent electrical pulses when struggling to recall memory, while the implant remains inactive when the brain is functioning normally. Overall, the device was able to improve word recall by around 15% during the early experiments. “The exciting thing about this is that, if it can be replicated and extended, then we can use the same method to figure out what features of brain activity predict good performance,” says Bradley Voytek, assistant professor of cognitive data and science at the University of California, San Diego. Some of his past work has had a strong influence on these new experiments.
During the study, participants memorized lists of words, and after a short period of mental distraction, they were asked to recall as many words as they could manage. These tests were taken repeatedly, sometimes whilst the implant was active during memorization, and other whilst it was not. On average, recollection was 15% more successful during word sets when the implant was switched on.
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