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article imageOvernight brain stimulation may improve memory

By Tim Sandle     Jul 31, 2018 in Health
New research suggests that a non-invasive technique of brain stimulation may enhances memory storage. Applied at night this appears to work without disturbing sleep.
The research, following human trials, outlines the potential for a new technique to improve memory. The non-invasive brain stimulation technique is delivered in a controlled manner during sleep. The study, run at the University of New Mexico, findings emerge from a project seeking to further understand how memories are consolidated. The new findings could lead to improved memory function in both healthy and patient populations.
The study, funded by the United States Department of Defense, looked at the usability of transfer of memories from the hippocampus to the neocortex for long-term storage memory storage. The research sought to to assess the extent that this process is enabled by the synchronization of these parts of the brain during sleep. The hippocampus plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory, and in spatial memory that enables navigation. The neocortex is involved in higher-order brain functions such as sensory perception, cognition, and with the generation of motor commands.
The researchers undertook the overnight reactivation to improve memory by fitting volunteer subjects with a closed-loop transcranial alternating current stimulation system. The scientists were able to match the phase and frequency of ongoing slow-wave oscillations during sleep. The subjects were shown military-related images before sleep and then reassessed on these images when they awoke.
The findings are published in The Journal of Neuroscience. The research paper is titled "Closed-loop slow-wave tACS improves sleep dependent long-term memory generalization by modulating endogenous oscillations."
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