Magnetic Stimulation May Help Improve Working Memory
Working memory refers to the ability to remember information for a period of time, and use, manipulate, and apply that information. Working memory declines with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. A new study suggests that magnetic stimulation of the brain may help improve working memory.
Twenty-nine young adults and eighteen older adults participated in the study. Online high frequency (5Hz) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or a placebo sham was applied over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain that manages higher executive function. During the magnetic or placebo stimulation, the participants completed a test that involved trying to remember then reproducing a series of letters in alphabetical order. The test had three levels of difficulty.
Participants in the magnetic stimulation group had significantly increased accuracy compared to those in the placebo group. However, this increase was only seen when the participants were completing the hardest level of the test. The younger and older participants in the magnetic stimulation group performed equally as well.
The study was conducted by researchers from Duke University. It was published March 22, 2019 in the journal PLOS ONE.