Neuroscience/Brain Science

The researchers at Boston University may have found a way to improve memory in older people. What's the best part? All you have to do is wear a headset that sends electric currents to the parts of the brain you want to target.

We understand if that sounds too good to betrue. The results of the researchers' study, published in the journal Neuroscience, are preliminary, and scientists have been chasing treatments for memory loss for a long time. The results could very well lay the groundwork for treatments for conditions like Alzheimer's.

The brain's prefrontal and parietal cortexes are thought to contribute to storing and recalling information. The scientists found that electric currents were able to enhance memory-specific brain waves.

Robert Reinhart, the study's author and director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory at Boston University, said that it connects to the so-called language of the brain.

Sixty volunteers between the ages of 65 and 88 were enlisted by the researchers for the first round of testing. They wore the cap for 20 minutes a day for four days, one group received high-frequency (60 hertz) waves to their prefrontal cortex, another received low-frequency (4 hertz) waves to the parietal cortex.

The waves are linked to memory and focus. The brain on theta waves is likely in a meditative state.

Scientists asked participants to memorize certain words while they were being zapped with the waves. Each person immediately performed word recall tests after the treatment ended.

The results were not great. The improvement in long-term memory was shown by 17 of the 20 people who received the waves. The ability to remember the last words in a test improved for 18 of the theta wave group.

The older individuals recall four to six words more out of a list of 20 words compared to the control group by the end of the intervention.

After testing 150 people, the scientists confirmed the results. The study claims that participants showed improvement in their memory about a month after the test.

The results do say something about short-term memory, but other doctors in the field don't think that's true.

Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, told CNN that cognitive experts say long-term memory is what you remember from an hour ago. Alzheimer's clinical symptoms and age- related memory impairment are grouped into short-term memory. When we say that Alzheimer's patients retain long-term memory, we're talking about remembering their wedding day.

Tanzi has something to say. This research is very preliminary and won't cure Alzheimer's any time soon. Scientists have opened the door to the practice of spot-treating our powers of memory, and they have laid the groundwork for new, exciting research to come.

A study shows that brain stimulation improves short-term memory in older people.

Scientists fed rats sugary soda for two months and they got stupid.