Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 15 : Do you often forget names of people at a party, telephone numbers, or even a short grocery list?
Relax! a team of Briton researchers has revealed, applying a low voltage current can bring different areas of the brain in sync with one another, enabling people to perform better tasks involving working memory.
The study, published in the journal eLife, explains that this approach could one day be used to bypass damaged areas of the brain and relay signals in people with traumatic brain injury, stroke or epilepsy.
Imperial College London researchers found that applying a weak electrical current through the scalp helped to align different parts of the brain, synchronising their brain waves and enabling them to keep the same beat.
"What we observed is that people performed better when the two waves had the same rhythm and at the same time," said lead researcher Dr Ines Ribeiro Violante.
In the trial, carried out in collaboration with University College London, the team used a technique called transcranial alternating current stimulation (TACS) to manipulate the brain's regular rhythm.
The team used TCAS to target two brain regions - the middle frontal gyrus and the inferior parietal lobule - which are known to be involved in working memory.
Atleast, ten volunteers were asked to carry out a set of memory tasks of increasing difficulty while receiving theta frequency stimulation to the two brain regions at slightly different times (unsynchronised), at the same time (synchronous), or only a quick burst (sham) to give the impression of receiving full treatment.
The participants looked at a screen on which numbers flashed up and had to remember if a number was the same as the previous, or in the case of the harder trial, if it the current number matched that of two-numbers previous.
The results revealed that when the brain regions were stimulated in sync, reaction times on the memory tasks improved, especially on the harder of the tasks requiring volunteers to hold two strings of numbers in their minds.
"The classic behaviour is to do slower on the harder cognitive task, but people performed faster with synchronised stimulation and as fast as on the simpler task," Dr Violante explained.