Scientists zap sleeping humans’ brains with electricity to improve their memory

A study involving 18 epileptic patients has discovered that providing electrical stimulation to two particular areas of the brain during non-REM sleep can improve memory recall. Dr Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, says some patients “improved by 10% or 20%; some improved by 80%”. The study’s findings back up the previously accepted belief among scientists that the brain strengthens memories during sleep, particularly when activity is synchronised between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. Fried suggests that by changing the “architecture of sleep”, patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s might have improved memory recall.

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