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'Electric pulses to brain may boost memory by 15 per cent'

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Precisely timed electrical stimulation to the left side of the can reliably and significantly enhance learning and performance by as much as 15 per cent, according to a study.

"We developed a system to monitor activity and trigger stimulation responsively based on the subject's activity," said Youssef Ezzyat, a at in the US.

"We also identified a novel target for applying stimulation, the left lateral temporal cortex," said Ezzyat.

In the study published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers monitored a patient's activity in real time during a task.

The patient watched and attempted to absorb a list of words, and a computer tracking and recording signals made predictions based on those signals.

The researchers then prompted an electrical pulse at safe levels and unfelt by the participants, when they were least likely to remember the new information.

"During each new word the patient viewed, the system would record and analyse activity to predict whether the patient had learned it effectively.

"When the system detected ineffective learning, that triggered stimulation, closing the loop," Ezzyat said.

After stimulation was turned off, the system would again listen to the subject's activity, waiting for the next appropriate opportunity to generate the pulse.

The study involved 25 neurosurgical patients receiving

Patients participated at clinical sites across the US. All subjects had already had electrodes implanted in their brains as part of routine clinical

"By developing patient-specific, personalised, machine- learning models, we could programme our stimulator to deliver pulses only when was predicted to fail, giving this technology the best chance of restoring function," said Michael Kahana, at

"This was important because we knew from earlier work that stimulating the during periods of good function was likely to make worse," Kahana said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 07 2018. 15:55 IST