Electric Shocks to the Brain May Help Older People’s Memory
A special device worn on the head that sends electrical charges into the brain may improve the memory abilities of older people. The device may even give them the ability to remember things as well as a person 20 to 30 years younger than them.
These are the findings of a study released in the scientific publication Nature Neuroscience earlier this month.
Researchers working on the study found that the age-related damage to working memory can be repaired. This is possible, they found, through stimulating two important areas of the brain at a special rhythm.
Working memory is the information held temporarily for use in immediate activities such as reasoning and decision-making.
The study involved 42 younger adults aged 20 to 29 and 42 older adults aged 60 to 76. The researchers tested all subjects for their performance in a working-memory activity.
The findings are still early and only relate to healthy volunteers. But the findings could point to new ways to increase brain operation in older people suffering from diseases that affect these operations, such as dementia and Alzheimer's patients.
Electroencephalography, or EEG, is a method of observing brain activity. Transcranial alternating-current stimulation, or tACS, is the means of sending electrical charges into the brain. Using both EEG and tACS, the scientists stimulated the brains of the group of young and old people. They were able to make small changes to the brainwave connections linked to their working memory.
Without brain stimulation, the older people were slower and less correct in their memories than the younger ones.
This was because the younger people had higher levels of connections of certain brain wave rhythms, the researchers said. This suggests that centering the treatment on these types of rhythms in the older people's brains might help their operations.
Robert Reinhart is a researcher at Boston University. He co-led the study. He said that when older adults received active brain stimulation, they improved their working-memory test scores to the levels of the younger people. The effect lasted for at least 50 minutes after the stimulation was given.
Reinhart said that the findings open up new possibilities for research. But he had no immediate suggestions for the findings' use in medicine.
"Much more basic science has to be done first," he added.
Neuroscientists agreed that the findings raised interesting questions about how working memory operates, and how it worsens with age. But they also agree that more research is needed before the treatment can be developed for wider use.
I'm Pete Musto.
1.as well as 和...一样；也
Moral as well as financial support was what the West should provide.
2.Working memory 工作记忆
Working memory refers to the amount of information we hold in our heads while we perform other tasks.
3.open up 打开
Lorna found that people were willing to open up to her.
4.brain wave 脑电波
Brain wave recordings show intense activity in the higher thinking centers of the brain.
脑电波记录表明，在大脑的高层思维中心， 脑电波特别活跃 。
5.They were able to make small changes to the brainwave connections linked to their working memory.
be linked to 与...有关
Aid to individual countries would be linked to progress towards democracy.
The authorities insist that the discussions must not be linked to any other issue.
6.He said the government had information that the bombings were carried out "by an Islamic fundamentalist group" in an answer to the New Zealand mosque attacks.
be relate to 与...有关
All these questions relate to philosophy.
He is unable to relate to other people.
一种头戴式特殊设备可将电荷输入大脑，这可能会提高老年人的记忆力 。这种设备甚至能够让他们的记忆力恢复至比其年轻二三十岁的人的记忆水平 。
这项研究的研究人员发现，与年龄相关的工作记忆损伤可被修复 。他们发现，通过以特殊的频率刺激大脑的两处重要区域也许能实现这一点 。
这项研究涉及了42名年龄在20到29岁的年轻人，以及42名年龄在60到76岁的老年人 。研究人员测试了所有研究对象在工作记忆活动中的表现 。
这项研究结果仍处于早期阶段，且仅涉及健康的志愿者 。但是该研究结果可能发现一条新途径，来提高患有影响大脑活动疾病的老年人的大脑运作，如痴呆症和阿尔茨海默病患者 。
脑电图（EEG）是一种观察大脑活动的方法 。经颅交流电刺激（tACS）是一种将电荷输入大脑的方式 。利用脑电图和经颅交流电刺激，科学家们刺激了年轻组和老年组的大脑 。他们能对与工作记忆相关的脑波进行微小的调整 。
研究人员表示，这是因为年轻人的特定脑电波频率具有更高的关联性 。这表明，针对老年人大脑的这类频率进行治疗可能有助提高其大脑活动 。
罗伯特·莱因哈特（Robert Reinhart）是波士顿大学的研究人员 。他也是这项研究的负责人之一 。他说，当老年人受到积极的大脑刺激时，他们的工作记忆测试分值会提高至年轻人的水平 。在受到刺激后，效果维持了至少50分钟 。
莱因哈特表示，该研究结果为研究开辟了新的可能性 。但他没有立即对这项研究结果的医学应用提出建议 。
神经科学学家们一致认为，这些研究结果提出了一些有趣的问题，例如工作记忆如何运作，以及如何随着年龄增长衰退 。但是他们也认同，在该疗法能够更广泛地运用前，需要进行更多研究 。