Brain stimulation improves short-term memory in older adults for a month, study finds

Up for a little noninvasive brain stimulation to boost your aging memory for that next big project, work meeting or family get-together? One day science may be able to offer such treatments, new research suggests.

Sending electrical currents into two parts of the brain known for storing and recalling information modestly boosted immediate recall of words in people over 65, according to a study by a team at Boston University published Monday in Nature Neuroscience.

"Whether, these improvements would occur for everyday memories, rather than just for lists of words, remains to be tested," said Masud Husain, a professor of neurology and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford, in a statement. He was not involved in the study.

Still, the study "provides important evidence that stimulating the brain with small amounts of electrical current is safe and can also improve memory," said Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic in the Center for Brain Health at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine, who was not involved in the research.

Improvements were most pronounced in people in the study with the poorest memories, who "would be considered to have mild cognitive impairment," said neuroscientist Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved with the study.

"There was an apparently beneficial effect on immediate word recall in those with mild cognitive impairment," said Tanzi, who is also director of the genetics and aging research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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