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Electric Shocks to Brain May Improve Memory

(A doctor examines the results of a patient’s MRI in Sao Pauol, Brazil 22 November 2001.)

Photo by MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty Images

Could a small jolt to the brain be the answer to memory loss?

A new study at UCLA may raise hopes for those suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s and other brain-diminishing diseases. In a small sampling, seven patients with epilepsy—including some with memory impairment—had wires inserted into their brains, delivering electrical current to clusters of neurons that no longer function properly and cause seizures.

In the process, researchers noted that all seven patients also exhibited improved memory, allowing them to navigate a virtual taxi cab through a computer-generated town created for the study.

Although very preliminary, the experiment saw improvement even in those patients not suffering from memory impairment, indicating that this stimulating technique might also benefit those with perfect cognitive functioning.

Now, if it could only help us find our car keys.