Brain stimulation technology succeeds in reversing the effects of mental decline in the elderly

Researchers reported that they were able to restore memory strength in some elderly to become equivalent to memory strength in young adults, using a method of brain stimulation.

It is known that the strength of memory tends to weaken with age, as about 15-20% of the elderly over the age of 65 suffer from a mild mental decline, a mild cognitive impairment, which is not a concern in itself, but increases the risk of infection Alzheimer’s later. One of the symptoms of this mental decline is forgetting places to leave things and needs, such as car keys, mobile phone charger or other, or having difficulty finding the right words or words to describe or name something or express oneself.

The team used a non-invasive form of brain stimulation, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, in 16 elderly people aged between 64 and 80 years. This stimulation works by applying a magnetic field from outside the body to a specific area of ​​the brain so that it affects the central nervous system. This method does not require any surgical procedure, so it is called non-invasive.

The target area of ​​the magnetic field was the hippocampus, an area that shrinks with age, and previous studies have linked it to a decline in the memory force associated with age. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to accurately locate the hippocampus at each participant.

Participants were divided into two groups, the elderly were in the first group of magnetic brain stimulation, while the elderly in the second group were treated for placebo. After that, all of these subjects underwent a standard memory test. In this test, the youth usually receive 55%, while the elderly receive less than 40%.

In the first group (real motivation), the elderly received a similar proportion to the proportion of young people, while the elderly in the second group (placebo) remained within the normal age group.

“The memory strength of the older participants in the experiment has improved so dramatically that we can no longer distinguish it from the memory strength of young people,” says lead author Joel Foss, assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University.

Researchers hope to test this method soon on a larger number of people with a simple mental decline to confirm these preliminary results, and the test of long-term effects.

The results of the study were published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Source: Medical News Today

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