Study finds electrical stimulation can help boost memory performance

Researchers have found that applying an electrical boost to the brain of a healthy person can enhance memory performance.

In a study published in Science, researchers at Northwestern University targeted the hippocampus -- part of the brain that plays a vital role in the basic memory process -- and applied short bursts of electromagnetic stimulation to the area, according to the BBC.

The non-invasive procedure was conducted on 16 volunteers between the ages of 16 and 41, for five consecutive days with each session lasting 20 minutes. Before the procedure began, each volunteer was asked to take a simple memory test.

Researchers found that 24 hours after the treatment was given, volunteers made 20-25 percent fewer mistakes on the same memory test.

The results have led researchers to examine whether the technique may help patients with memory disorders and reduce memory loss later in life.

“It has tremendous potential for treating memory disorders,” study leader Joel Voss, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine told the BBC. “We show for the first time that you can specifically change memory functions of the brain in adults without surgery or drugs, which have not proven effective.”

Voss told Science that an upcoming study will focus on the stimulation’s effect on people with early-stage memory loss.