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  • 2/13/2012

Stimulating key brain region improves memory

a skull x-ray of a patient with deep brain stimulation device

Scientists say using electrical pulses to stimulate a region in deep brain can boost memory, a finding that may pave way to an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.

A small experiment revealed that deep brain stimulation used for treating Parkinson's disease and some forms of epilepsy and psychiatric disorders may one day help people with memory problems such as those suffering different forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) implanted electrodes in the brain of 7 epileptic volunteers to stimulate the entorhinal cortex, a region critical for memory function.

The studied people were asked to play a video game in which they took the role of cab drivers who picked up passengers and travelled across town to deliver them to one of the six requested shops.

Findings showed that deep-brain stimulation of the entorhinal cortex significantly improved patients' navigational ability, reflecting improved spatial memory.

Stimulating another key region called the hippocampus was not effective in boosting the memory of the participants, scientists wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Our preliminary results provide evidence supporting a possible mechanism for enhancing memory, particularly as people age or suffer from early dementia. At the same time, we studied a small sample of patients, so our results should be interpreted with caution,”‌ said lead researcher Dr. Itzhak Fried.

Reportedly, about 90,000 people worldwide have already received deep brain stimulation as a treatment for their brain problems while 10,000 others are joining them each year.

Scientists hope that in not so far future the technology may be used for patients suffering from different hard to treat or currently untreatable forms of dementia.

Source: presstv.com

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