Electrical stimulation of brain may boost memory in epilepsy patients


Neuroscientists at David Geffen School of Medicine have recently discovered how and where to stimulate the brain effectively in people with brain disorders like epilepsy. This is mainly of concern to people with memory lapse or those, who are not able to recall. People suffering from epilepsy, who received electrical stimulation showed improvement in recognizing faces.

During the study, electrical stimulation, when given to the right side of the brain, resulted in improved ability of patients in identifying specific faces. However, no results were noted when stimulation was done to the left side of the brain. This was seen in eight out of 9 patients under the study.

The study, covered in New England Journal of Medicine, indicated that electrical stimulation of brain can strengthen human memory.

For the experiment, ultrafine wires were implanted in brains of 13 people suffering from epilepsy to find the origin of their seizures. Neural activity was recorded by the team as memories were formed. Thereafter, entorhinal area of the brain was stimulated electrically by sending electrical pulses. Ultrafine wires helped locate the point of seizures with voltage around one tenth of what was used in previous studies.


The study indicated that even low-voltage electric currents affect brain circuits that control memory and learning. Electrical stimulation treatment can be beneficial in treating memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This study was led by Dr. Itzhak Fried and colleagues. It was issued in peer reviewed journal, eLife, and funded by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.