Scientists at Northwestern University first assessed the baseline memory of 16 volunteers and pinpointed the region of the hippocampus—the part of the brain that plays a central role in memory processes. The researchers did this by presenting the volunteers with pictures of faces associated with unrelated words, such as hat or car, which the volunteers were asked to remember.
During the memory tests, a device sent electromagnetic pulses to the area of the volunteers’ head above the hippocampus. The session lasted 20 minutes a day and was repeated for five days. Following the five sessions, the volunteers were asked to perform similar memory tests.
After five days of receiving the electromagnetic stimulation, the participants made on average 30 percent fewer mistakes than they did before the procedure.
The results, published in the journal Science, suggest that non-invasive brain stimulation techniques may help improve memory as well as the ability to learn new things. Researchers said it also carries the potential to treat memory disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Return to News Home