Monday, September 14, 2009

Stimulate your waking memory with an electrical cap

A tiny oscillating electrical stimulation of which we are completely unaware (passed between electrodes on the forehead and jaw) can have the effect of enhancing memory consolidation during waking, an effect shown previously during sleep. The abstract of the open access PNAS article from Kirov et al.:
The application of transcranial slow oscillation stimulation (tSOS; 0.75 Hz) was previously shown to enhance widespread endogenous EEG slow oscillatory activity when applied during a sleep period characterized by emerging endogenous slow oscillatory activity. Processes of memory consolidation typically occurring during this state of sleep were also enhanced. Here, we show that the same tSOS applied in the waking brain also induced an increase in endogenous EEG slow oscillations (0.4–1.2 Hz), although in a topographically restricted fashion. Applied during wakefulness tSOS, additionally, resulted in a marked and widespread increase in EEG theta (4–8 Hz) activity. During wake, tSOS did not enhance consolidation of memories when applied after learning, but improved encoding of hippocampus-dependent memories when applied during learning. We conclude that the EEG frequency and related memory processes induced by tSOS critically depend on brain state. In response to tSOS during wakefulness the brain transposes stimulation by responding preferentially with theta oscillations and facilitated encoding.

1 comment:

  1. I bet we'd see similar effects if they increased fast sleep spindles too.