|(c) Copyright: EPFL, Blue Brain Project|
The non-invasive process uses electrical current using magnetic pulses to target a region of the brain. This is the first time that memory functions of a brain can be manipulated without the use of surgery or of drugs.
By targeting a specific area of the brain in the hippocampus, they observed that TMS can be used to improve memory for events at least 24 hours after the stimulation is given.
The study, published in Science, used 16 healthy adults ages 21 to 40 (see video below). They received brain stimulation through Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) twenty minutes a day for five consecutive days. It was noted that the group performed better on memory tests as a result of the brain stimulation and that it took three days of TMS before they improved.
Neurostimulation is a process where neurons in the nervous system are stimulated to either restore functionality of a certain organ, control an organ, or induce/reduce a specific nerve signal within the system. This is done through micro-electrodes that deliver electrical signals to the neurons.
There are four types of neurostimulation; Brain Stimulation, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). Each of these types have been used to alter/improve brain activity in the past.
This recent discovery is the first to show how electrical stimulation can improve new learning long after treatment and may help treat memory disorders resulting from stroke, Alzheimer's Disease and other types of brain injury.