Scientists from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine have discovered that non-invasive brain stimulation can be used in a more exact manner to improve precise memory function. Many people with serious memory disorders, such as dementia, lose the function of their precise memory—the portion of your memory that allows you to remember specific details like a building’s appearance, rather than just its general location.
Using electromagnets, scientists were able to specifically target the section of the brain responsible for precise memory and improve it, a procedure that has not been done with such accuracy in the past. The electromagnets targeted the network within the brain that is responsible for spatial memory, allowing them to improve the precision with which the memory was able to identify specific locations.
The study was conducted using an MRI to map out memory-related networks within the brain and identify which were responsible for spatial memory. These networks were then stimulated using a powerful electromagnet in a non-invasive manner, after which participants were asked to complete detailed memory tests designed to use precise spatial memory. The results showed that the electromagnetic stimulation aided in the completion of these tests, and an EEG was used in order to prove that the improved functioning was due to the stimulation of specific brain networks.
While previous studies regarding non-invasive brain stimulation only discovered more general and short-term effects, this latest study was much more precise and had lasting effects for a full 24 hours after the procedure. The promising results of this study open the door for more accurate and lasting treatments for patients suffering from memory loss. More research is needed before a proper treatment regimen can be designed, but this study proves that we are on the right track.