Working memory is the part of the mind where consciousness lives, the part that is engaged when we reason, make decisions, even recall our shopping lists or remember where we left our car parked for example.
But our working memory begins to decline in our late 20s and mid 30s as specific brain regions connections lose strength and coordination. Later on in life as we hit our 60’s and 70s, these neural circuits have sufficiently decayed that a significant number of us begin to experience some cognitive decline challenges.
But there is hope, according to a recent study at Boston University and published in the Nature Neuroscience showed that a non-invasive, t-ACS electrical current stimulation of the brain areas that have lost their rhythm was able to drastically improve working memory performance.
The study split two groups: a group of 20 year old’s and a group of 60/70 year old’s and compared their working performance of a series of memory tasks that required them to view an image, and after a short pause, were presented with a second image and asked if there were any differences between them.
The baseline test showed that while performing the tasks, the 20 year old groups showed key working memory regions activity while the older adults group’s remained dormant.
When the older adults group were treated with electrical stimulation for 25 minute, the older group performed as well as the younger group for 50 minutes post stimulation (Which was the allowed post treatment measurement window, the total time the effects lasted was outside the scope of the study).
Even some of the young adult group who had performed poorly to the memory tasks despite their young age, also gained the same level of working memory performance improvements.
The science behind the results:
Ok, to gain a better understanding why this technique worked so well, we need to dive into the science of coupling and synchronization, which are the two mechanics that allow working memory to function at optimal levels.
Coupling happens when different types of brain rhythms coordinate with each other in order to processes and store working memory.
Your brain works with several brain frequencies ranging low to high (Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma)
Of interest to this study are Gamma and Theta waves.
Gamma rythms are faster/high brain frequencies (In the 25-100 hrz range) which help us processes the world around us.
Similar to musical instruments like the violin, drum or piano contribute to the formation of a melody, each Gamma rhythm contribute to the formation of a memory by helping process elements of the memory such as sounds or the shapes and colors of an object.
Theta rhythm (A low frequencies in the 3-8hrz) act more like the conductor of the brain’s symphony.
As with a Symphony, when a conductor drops their conducting baton they loose their ability to monitor and connect with the individual instrument players, so does the Theta rhythms loose their ability to connect to the Gamma rhythms. The brain then looses it’s harmonious melody which results in fragmented memories over time.
Synchronization is a way for different part of the brain to communicate with each other by synchronizing themselves in a Theta rhythms and forming a glue for a memory when combining individual sensory data to create one coherent recollection.
As we age, our Theta rhythms become less synchronize and the fabric of our memories begin to dissolve.
What this study indicates is that by re-establish these connection via electrical stimulation, the flow of information within the brain that takes place as we age can be restored.
At Brain Mechanics our clinicians have spend years quantifying and validating the effects of t-ACS and t-DCS. Our first hand experience to it’s profound effects with populations such as Autism Spectrum Disorder children is why it is a key component to our Alzheimer’s Resolution Protocol.
Come check us out at Brain Mechanics, www.brainmechanics.org to see how we are using interesting approaches like machine learning embedded bio-metrics, functional medicine, tDCS, tACS, PEMF, neurofeedback, the RECode Protocol and AI to eradicate Alzheimer’s from the face of the earth.