A landmark trial has confirmed that sending electrical currents deep in the brain can improve memory, and the results paved the way for future studies in Alzheimer’s patients.
Neurologists have developed a technology called temporal interference brain stimulation that involves applying electrodes to the scalp to send high-frequency rays to the brain.
The beams have slightly different frequencies (for example, 2,000 Hz and 2,005 Hz) and when they cross they create a low-frequency wave of 5 Hz.
This low-frequency wave is activated in the hippocampus, a deep area of the brain responsible for forming new memories.
It works by increasing the coordination of activity involved in the formation of memories in the cells of this part of the brain.
Neurologists have developed a technology called temporal interference brain stimulation that involves applying electrodes to the scalp to send high-frequency rays to the brain. The beams have slightly different frequencies (for example, 2,000 Hz and 2,005 Hz) and when they cross they create a low-frequency wave of 5 Hz. This low-frequency wave is activated in the hippocampus, a deep area of the brain responsible for forming new memories.
The team tested their technology on 20 healthy volunteers, who wore the electrodes for 30 minutes straight while memorizing pairs of faces and names.
Analysis revealed that it improved memory accuracy by up to 20 percent without interfering with healthy brain tissue.
Experts have called the technology “incredible” as it opens a new avenue of treatment for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Until now, structures that electrically stimulate deep in the brain required surgery.
The team, from the UK Dementia Research Institute at Imperial College London, along with the University of Surrey, have begun testing the technique in people with early Alzheimer’s.
Dr Nir Grossman, who led the study, said: “Until now, if we wanted to electrically stimulate the deep structures of the brain, we needed to surgically implant electrodes in the brain, which of course carries risks for the patient and can lead to complications.” .
‘With our new technique we have shown for the first time that it is possible to remotely stimulate specific deep regions of the human brain without the need for surgery.
‘This opens up a completely new avenue of treatment for brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, which affect deep brain structures. We hope it will help increase the availability of deep brain stimulation therapies by dramatically reducing cost and risk.
‘We are now testing whether repeated treatment with stimulation over several days could benefit people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
“We hope this will restore normal brain activity to the affected areas, which could improve symptoms of memory impairment.”
There are almost one million people living with dementia in the UK and this number is predicted to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
Commenting on the results, Dr Richard Oakley, associate director of research and innovation at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘This is an incredible technology.
«Currently, treatments that stimulate deep areas of the brain are used in Parkinson’s disease, but this involves invasive surgery whose recovery can take months.
«This study shows that it is possible to perform deep brain stimulation simply by wearing headphones. What’s more, this stimulation can improve performance on memory tasks in healthy people.
“Dementia is a devastating terminal illness and the leading cause of death in the UK, so it’s really exciting to see the research opening up completely new areas for future treatments, but it’s still very early days.
“We look forward to seeing how the study develops, particularly how long-lasting the changes might be for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Mood swings and swearing are signs of Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a type of dementia that causes behavioral and language problems. According to experts, bad parking and sloppy dressing are also signs of this memory-robbing disease. Graphic shows: Six signs of Alzheimer’s disease
Richard Morris, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This work is potentially a surprising step forward and I congratulate the authors for developing their non-invasive target of focal stimulation in deep brain structures such as the hippocampus.”
Dr Leah Mursaleen, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Although there are some promising new drugs in the pipeline for people with early Alzheimer’s disease, they have not yet been approved by regulators and even if they are, it is possible don’t do it.” be suitable for everyone.
‘With almost a million people living with dementia in the UK today, it is crucial that we also look at other ways that can help people manage their symptoms.
“Although deep brain stimulation is available as a treatment option for some brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, current techniques require complicated brain surgery.
‘It is therefore fantastic to see UK researchers exploring promising new ways to reach the brain that do not require invasive procedures.
‘It is important to note that this study was carried out in a small group of healthy volunteers. Therefore, the results of the upcoming clinical trial, which will evaluate this interesting technique in people with early Alzheimer’s disease, will give us more information to see if this technique can help improve their memory.’
The findings were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disease in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins causes the death of nerve cells.
This disrupts the transmitters that carry messages and causes the brain to shrink.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the United States, where it is the sixth leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons suffer from it.
As brain cells die, the functions they perform are lost.
That includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.
The progress of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live ten to 15 years.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Behavior changes
- Humor changes
- Difficulty handling money or making a phone call.
- Severe memory loss, forgetting close relatives, familiar objects or places.
- Feeling anxious and frustrated about the inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior.
- Over time he loses the ability to walk.
- You may have problems eating
- Most will eventually need 24-hour care
Fountain: Alzheimer’s Association