Even during an ordinary activity of reading, the words are "held within the brain" for a few seconds, eventually enabling us to understand them as a whole.In the meantime, our neurons transmit batches of electrical impulses.As we get older, the mechanism becomes unreliable which, in turn, weakens our short-term memory.New research shows that the negative effect of the lapse of time may be temporarily reversed by artificial electric stimulation of certain brain areas.
Vincent Clark, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque (who was not involved in the research) says that they constitute a solid argument in favour of the concept that brain waves can drive cognitive aging at certain brain areas. The scientist adds that the approach to brain stimulation adopted in the research may lead to the development of a new treatment for working memory deficits that are related to aging.
Cheryl Grady, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest in Toronto, Canada, says that they provide clear evidence to what connections underpin memory or may lead to its deterioration.
Michael O'Sullivan, a neuroscientist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, points out that it is the first time when it has been proven that transcranial stimulation restores working memory in the case of the elderly people.
Working memory is a "sketchpad of the mind" that allows for holding received information for a few seconds. This short-term memory is of crucial importance for the performance of daily tasks ? such as planning or counting. Scientists are of the opinion that when we use the memory of this kind, millions of neurons present in different parts of our brains communicate through coupled activity bursts.During related tests, the brains of the examined were subject to electric stimulation.After approx. 25 minutes of being subject to the stimulation, the participants turned out more precise, on average, with regard to identifying changes in pictures than prior to the stimulation.The improvement lasted for about an hour.This discovery may be later used for the treatment of the dysfunction.