Nav: Home

rTMS improves memory in younger and older adults

May 15, 2019

Magnetic stimulation of the brain improves working memory, offering a new potential avenue of therapy for individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, according to new research from the Duke University School of Medicine.

Healthy younger and older adult participants who received a therapy called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) performed better on a memory task than during an rTMS-like placebo in the study, which was published here in PLoS One.

"This study relies on highly individualized parameters, from the selection of the stimulated target, based on fMRI activation, to the selection of the difficulty, titrated according to subjects' performance. Now that we have shown that these specific parameters can improve performance in healthy subjects, we will be able to extend it to populations with memory deficits," said Lysianne Beynel, PhD, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Working memory is the process of recalling and then using relevant information while performing a task. It's a key component of day-to-day tasks like driving to a new location, making a recipe, or following instructions. Individuals with Alzheimer's disease, which will more than double by 2050, and other forms of dementia, experience progressive loss of working memory and other forms of cognition, leading to a greater risk of injury or death and reducing their ability to function without home care.

Twenty-nine young adults and 18 older adults completed the study, which involved trying to remember and then reproduce a series of letters in alphabetical order. The authors applied either online high-frequency (5Hz) rTMS, or a placebo-like sham over the left prefrontal cortex, an area on the brain responsible for higher executive function. Participants of all ages who received rTMS performed better than those who received the rTMS-like placebo.

"Interestingly, we only saw this effect during when participants were trying their hardest, suggesting a real use-it-or-lose it principle at work here," said co-author Simon W. Davis, PhD. "Contrary to much of what we hear, aging brains have a remarkable capability to remember past events and to use that information in a flexible manner. The brain stimulation applied in our study shows that older adults benefited just as much as the young."
-end-
Other authors of the study include Roberto Cabeza, PhD, Courtney Crowell, Susan Hilbig, Wesley Lim, Hannah Palmer, Alexandra Brito, Duy Nguyen, Luber Bruce, and Sarah Lisanby. This research was supported by grant U01 AG050618 from the National Institute on Aging.

Duke Department of Neurology

Related Dementia Articles:

Flies the key to studying the causes of dementia
A research team from the University of Plymouth, University of Southampton and the Alexander Fleming Biomedical Sciences Research Center, Vari, Greece, have studied two structurally-similar proteins in the adult brain and have found that they play distinct roles in the development of dementia.
Stroke prevention may also reduce dementia
Ontario's stroke prevention strategy appears to have had an unexpected, beneficial side effect: a reduction also in the incidence of dementia among older seniors.
Dementia: The right to rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is important for people with dementia as it is for people with physical disabilities, according to a leading dementia expert.
One in 4 elderly Australian women have dementia
At least a quarter of Australian women over 70 will develop dementia according to University of Queensland researchers.
Rural dementia -- we need to talk
Research carried out by Plymouth University into the experience of dementia in farming and farming families, and its impact on their businesses and home lives, has identified four areas of concern which need to be addressed if dementia in the countryside is to be managed.
More Dementia News and Dementia Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.