Researchers are finding new ways to improve our memory
Sleep is very important to the human brain. During sleep, the brain uses the information that we learned earlier in the day. But with millions of people with neurological disorders, the processes of processing information don't work properly. Researchers have now discovered an unusual method to improve the memory of people with diseases such as autism, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and depression. Weak electrical currents in the brain can improve our memory.
Scientists from the University of North Carolina found in an investigation that a non-invasive method can increase people's memories. The doctors used weak electronic currents for this. These have been targeted at specific areas of the human brain. The researchers published the results of their study in the journal "Current Biology".
What role do sleep spindles play in storing information?
For years, scientists have been trying to understand how the electrical activity of the brain affects our memory during sleep. It has long been suspected that so-called sleep spindles play a major role in these processes, says the author Dr. Flavio Frohlich from the University of North Carolina.
Sleeping spindles are vital to creating memories
Our study now showed that the spindles are critical to the memory creation process we need for everyday life, explains Dr. Happy. And there are ways to improve our memories. The new study was the first to focus solely on researching the sleep spindles without increasing other natural electrical activity in the brain, reports Dr. Happy to continue.
Subjects must perform two memory exercises before sleeping
During the exam, the male participants had to do two memory exercises together, after which they went to sleep. The first task was about associative pairing of words, the scientists say. The second task was a motorized sequence task, in which subjects had to tap certain areas. Half of the subjects received real AC stimulation, the other group received only a placebo, the experts add.
Stimulation improves the performance of motor tasks
The next day, the participants had to do the memory exercises again. However, there was no real improvement in the word pairing tests. But when it came to performing the motor tasks, there was a clear improvement, the scientists explain. This is evidence of a direct causal relationship between the electrical activity pattern of sleep spindles and the process of memory consolidation, says the author Fröhlich.
Sleep spindles new target for the treatment of memory disorders
Previous studies have shown that so-called optogenetics can restore our memories. But the new results are very gratifying, because the connection between sleep spindles and the formation of our memory could affect a number of diseases, explains lead author Dr. Caroline Lustenberger from the University of North Carolina. For example, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's are affected by this relationship. We now hope that sleep spindles could be a new target for the treatment of memory disorders, the doctor adds. This new type of treatment could then help many people with cognitive deficits. (as)