Posts Tagged memory

[WEB SITE] Researchers prove that precisely timed brain stimulation improves memory

brain

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Precisely timed electrical stimulation to the left side of the brain can reliably and significantly enhance learning and memory performance by as much as 15 percent, according to a study by a team of University of Pennsylvania neuroscientists published in Nature Communications. It is the first time such a connection has been made and is a major advance toward the goal of Restoring Active Memory, a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored project aimed at developing next-generation technologies to improve memory function in veterans with memory loss.

“Our study has two novel aspects,” said Youssef Ezzyat, a senior data scientist in Penn’s psychology department in the School of Arts and Sciences and lead author on the paper. “We developed a system to monitor brain activity and trigger stimulation responsively based on the subject’s brain activity. We also identified a novel target for applying stimulation, the left lateral temporal cortex.”

In previous work by the Penn team, led by Michael Kahana, professor of psychology and RAM program principal investigator, and Daniel Rizzuto, director of cognitive neuromodulation, electrical pulses were delivered at regular intervals, independent of a subject’s success at learning. For example, during a free-recall memory task, researchers presented words on a screen for the patient to learn, and they applied brain stimulation with every other word in an effort to improve the outcome. In this case, the stimulation was not in response to specific brain-activity patterns.

In the current study, they took a different tack, one that included monitoring a patient’s brain activity in real time during a task. As the patient watched and attempted to absorb a list of words, a computer tracking and recording brain signals would make predictions based on those signals and then prompt 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 analyze brain 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 brain activity, waiting for the next appropriate opportunity to generate the pulse.

The study involved 25 neurosurgical patients receiving treatment for epilepsy. Patients participated at clinical sites across the country, including the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, University of Texas Southwestern, Emory University Hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Mayo Clinic. All subjects had already had electrodes implanted in their brains as part of routine clinical treatment for epilepsy.

To build the models that used brain activity to make predictions, each participant performed the free-recall memory task during at least three 45-minute sessions before the Penn team introduced any closed-loop stimulation; multiple sessions increased the confidence that the brain activity linked to ineffective learning reflected a true pattern rather than an accidental blip. Patients then took part in at least one session involving brain stimulation.

“By developing patient-specific, personalized, machine-learning models,” Kahana said, “we could program our stimulator to deliver pulses only when memory was predicted to fail, giving this technology the best chance of restoring memory function. This was important because we knew from earlier work that stimulating the brain during periods of good function was likely to make memory worse.”

With this finding, the four-year RAM project comes closer to a fully implantable neural monitoring and stimulation system. The researchers said they believe there is great potential for the therapeutic benefits of this stimulation, particularly for people with traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Now we know more precisely,” Rizzuto said, “where to stimulate the brain to enhance memory in patients with memory disorders, as well as when to stimulate to maximize the effect.”

Michael Sperling, clinical study investigator at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, added, “We are now able to monitor when the brain seems to be going off course and to use stimulation to correct the trajectory. This finding took an incredible amount of effort by not only the researchers but also by our patients, who were extraordinarily dedicated to participating in this project so that others might be helped.”

More information:
Youssef Ezzyat et al. Closed-loop stimulation of temporal cortex rescues functional networks and improves memory, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02753-0

Journal reference:
Nature Communicationswebsite

Provided by:
University of Pennsylvania

via Researchers prove that precisely timed brain stimulation improves memory

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[WEB SITE] Tickling the brain with electrical stimulation improves memory, study shows

Tickling the brain with electrical stimulation improves memory, study shows
Credit: Mayo Clinic

Tickling the brain with low-intensity electrical stimulation in a specific area can improve verbal short-term memory. Mayo Clinic researchers report their findings in Brain.

The researchers found word recall was enhanced with stimulation of the brain’s lateral temporal cortex, the regions on the sides of the head by the temples and ears. Patients recalled more words from a previously viewed list when low-amplitude  was delivered to the brain. One patient reported that it was easier to picture the words in his mind for remembering.

“The most exciting finding of this research is that our  for language information can be improved by directly stimulating this underexplored brain area,” says Michal Kucewicz, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher in the Department of Neurology and co-first author. Dr. Kucewicz compares the stimulation to “tickling” the brain.

Memory impairments are a prevalent, costly problem in many brain diseases. Medication and behavioral therapies have limited effectiveness in many cases. “While electrical stimulation of the brain is emerging as potential therapy for a wide range of neurological and psychiatric diseases, little is known about its effect on memory,” says Gregory Worrell, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist and senior author of the article.

The Mayo researchers are part of a multicenter collaboration led by Michael Kahana, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. This collaboration includes seven academic medical centers.

“The next step for this project is to determine how to best apply electrical current in terms of the exact location within this area of the brain, timing and parameters of stimulation,” says Brent Berry, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher in the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering and co-first author.

In this Brain paper, Drs. Kucewicz and Berry, and colleagues focused their study on four areas of the brain known to support memory for facts and events that can be consciously recalled.

The memory testing was done with patients undergoing evaluation for surgery to address seizures. These patients agreed to have their memory investigated using the electrodes implanted in their brains for surgical evaluation. It is common for people with epilepsy to have memory problems because the brain circuits that underlie memory function often are affected by epilepsy.In the study, patients were instructed to read a list of words—one at a time—from a computer screen. Electrical stimulation was applied some of this time. Patients then attempted to freely recall the words in any order.

Among 22 patients, the researchers found enhanced memory performance in the four patients with stimulation of the lateral temporal cortex but not among those with the other brain regions stimulated.

“These findings may lead to new stimulation devices that treat deficits in memory and cognition,” says Jamie Van Gompel, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon specializing in  stimulation and an author in the study.

The authors note study limitations include pain and seizure medications that may affect patient performance, the hospital setting that may disrupt ‘ sleep and wake cycles, and the fact that epilepsy affects memory.

 Explore further: Neuroscientists improve human memory by electrically stimulating brain

More information: Michal T Kucewicz et al. Evidence for verbal memory enhancement with electrical brain stimulation in the lateral temporal cortex, Brain (2017). DOI: 10.1093/brain/awx373

via Tickling the brain with electrical stimulation improves memory, study shows

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[WEB SITE] Walk 4,000 steps every day to boost brain function

Recent research led by the University of California, Los Angeles shows that taking a short walk each day can help to keep the brain healthy, supporting the overall resilience of cognitive functioning.
seniors walking in the park

Could a walk in the park help to maintain cognitive health in old age?

As we grow older, memory problems can begin to set in. These could be a natural part of aging and a minor annoyance, but in some cases, the issues may indicate mild cognitive impairment and could even develop into dementia.

Regardless of how mild or severe these memory problems may be, they are definitely distressing and can affect an individual’s quality of life.

New research from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles suggests that there is a relatively easy way of keeping your brain in top shape as you grow older: take a moderately long walk every day.

This could boost your attention, the efficiency with which you process information, and other cognitive skills, say first study author Prabha Siddarth and colleagues.

The research findings were recently published the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Cortical thickness to assess cognitive health

Siddarth and team initially recruited 29 adults aged 60 and over, of which 26 completed the study over a 2-year period. The participants were split into two distinct groups:

  • a low physical activity group, comprising people who walked 4,000 or fewer steps each day
  • a high physical activity group, made up of people who walked more than 4,000 steps per day

All the participants reported a degree of memory complaints at baseline, but none of them had a dementia diagnosis.

In order to explore the potential effect of physical activity on cognitive ability, the researchers used MRI to determine the volume and thickness of the hippocampus, which is a brain region associated with memory formation and storage, and spatial orientation.

Previous research suggested that the size and volume of this brain region can tell us something about cognitive health. For instance, a higher hippocampal volume has been shown to indicate more effective memory consolidation.

“Few studies have looked at how physical activity affects the thickness of brain structures,” says Siddarth.

“Brain thickness,” she notes, “a more sensitive measure than volume, can track subtle changes in the brain earlier than volume and can independently predict cognition, so this is an important question.”

Walk more every day for a resilient brain

In addition to the MRI scans, the participants also underwent a set of neuropsychological tests, to consolidate the assessment of their cognitive capacity.

It was found that those in the high physical activity group — who walked more than 4,000 steps (approximately 3 kilometers) each day — had thicker hippocampi, as well as thicker associated brain regions, when compared with that of the those falling under the low physical activity category.

The highly active group was also found to have better attention, speedier information processing abilities, and more efficient executive function, which includes working memory. Working memory is the resource that we tap into on a daily basis when we need to make spontaneous decisions.

However, Siddarth and colleagues reported no significant differences between the high activity and low activity groups when it came to memory recall.

The next step from here, the researchers suggest, should be to undertake a longitudinal analysis in order to test the relationship between physical activity and cognitive ability over time.

They also note the need to better understand the mechanisms behind cognitive decline in relation to hippocampal atrophy.

via Walk 4,000 steps every day to boost brain function

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[BLOG POST] Thinking & Memory After Stroke – Saebo

Whether you’re awake or asleep, your brain is continuously active. Vast amounts of information—thoughts, moments, feelings, etc.—are sent to your brain, where they are filtered and stored, and it’s important for your brain to be working properly in order to place them in the right spots.

After surviving a stroke, there is a possibility that some of the brain’s vital functions could be damaged, which makes its processes more difficult to carry out, potentially causing harmful issues for the patient. In many stroke cases, issues with thinking and memory are likely to occur, but there are ways to rebuild brain power and regain a healthy lifestyle over time.

Common Problems After a Stroke

Due to physical trauma to the brain, it’s common to experience a variety of issues. Daily actions, like executing a simple task or reacting to external situations, can become difficult to navigate. These kinds of challenges may include watching a television show, reading a book, following through with a task from start to finish, remembering what others have just told you, troubles with directions, executing simple instructions, and even cooking for yourself. If these don’t sound cumbersome enough, along with a slew of physical hurdles lies a deeper obstacle of impaired cognition.
Continue reading our previous post Most Common Questions Answered for more common stroke recovery questions & answers.

Cognitive Problems After a Stroke

Impairments dealing with cognition refer to mental actions and operations that the brain cannot fully sort out. Basically, there is a lack of communication when it comes to gaining information and understanding through vital pathways—thoughts, experiences, and the senses. Because of this, a stroke survivor can possibly mimic symptoms of someone who has dementia or memory loss.

Depending on which side of the brain is most affected by a stroke, different symptoms can occur. For example, someone with a right-brain stroke can exhibit complications with problem solving. In addition, they may confuse information or muddle up the order of details of an event. For those who are left-brain impacted, there may be a significant change to their short-term memory. In this case, a survivor may have a hard time learning new things and will most likely have to be reminded of something many times. That being said, there are ways to help improve cognitive abilities with patience and repetition, and it all starts with rebuilding memory.

Memory Loss After a Stroke

Not only is it common for stroke survivors, but memory loss can be an issue for anyone. Factors like old age and physical accidents can contribute to its deterioration, so understanding its processes can provide a better scope of what to expect.

Types of memory loss may include:

  • Difficulty speaking and understanding language
  • Visual confusion with faces, objects, and directions
  • Trouble with new information and tasks
  • Inability to think clearly

Although these issues may seem challenging, keep in mind that one’s memory has the capability to heal itself over time with the help of mental exercises. Daily routines of mental stimulation may aid in rebuilding awareness and focus, and the best part is that these activities can be enjoyable. There are ways to incorporate a variety of exercises into your life that can make a big difference towards a healthy recovery. Remember, memory symptoms have the potential to last for years, so it’s unlikely that progress will be made overnight, but consistency can set the pace for improvement.

Something else to keep in mind is that techniques for improving after memory loss are considered experimental. In most stroke cases, treatments are designed to help prevent further damage, so if you or a loved one feel like treatments aren’t working, consult with your doctor about taking medications that may assist in rehabilitation.

Ways to Stimulate the Brain

The good news is that there are many options to increase your brain power, and they are all useful in more ways than one! For instance, taking up a new hobby that involves both the mind and body is a great way to work your brain muscles. In addition, performing various physical movements shows a huge correlation with growth in mental and physical strength. Along with these methods, great improvements of mental health can be made by following a routine. Simple tasks like writing things down, designating certain spots for items, and overall repetition provide stability and reassurance.

Apps

Rather than focusing all your attention on classic methods of brain stimulation, try technology; it can be an immediate and fun way to see results. On a smartphone or tablet you’ll find countless apps available that can help improve memory and speech, set reminders for medications and appointments, and help manage other illnesses or issues that you may have. With today’s growing technology, apps are both widely accessible and easy to use, giving you freedom to develop your own regiment of “app rehab.”

Here are some of our favorite apps to try out:

What’s the Difference?

In this game, two pictures will appear on the screen, and it’s your job to use your finger and circle any differences you spot on the image below compared to the image above. As you move from one level to the next, the differences will be harder to find! This game will improve your awareness and perception skills with every round.

Thinking Time Pro

Designed by Harvard and UC Berkeley neuroscientists, this app uses four different scientific games to enhance your memory, attention, reasoning, and overall cognitive skills. The best part about this app is that you can set the difficulty level to move at your own pace.

Fit Brains Trainer

Ranked as one of the best educational apps in the world, Fit Brains Trainer stimulates your cognitive and emotional intelligence through a variety of brain games, workout sessions, and personalized status reports based on your performance.

Eidetic

For the ultimate boost in memorization, Eidetic utilizes a technique known as “spaced repetition” to aid you in memorizing loads of information. Whether you want to remember someone’s phone number or a recipe you just found online, this app will do the trick.

Support Leads to Progress

If you or a loved one is suffering from issues pertaining to thinking and memory, know that there are treatments out there to make improvements. With patience and understanding, a stroke survivor can eventually reach a level of fulfillment in life, but it’s difficult to get there alone. More than anything, a survivor will need encouragement in order to believe that progress can be made. With the support of friends and family, and help from various exercises and technologies, development is certainly possible

via Thinking & Memory After Stroke | Saebo

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[BLOG POST] Vagus Nerve Stimulation…Is it for YOU?

Epilepsy Talk

Having a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted can be a tough decision.  Is it right for you? Will it work? What are the side effects and consequences?

I did some research and got the low-down on what it is, how it works and some interesting statistics.  (If you are already acquainted with the VNS and are on the fence, you might want to just skip down to risks and benefits sections.)

How it works

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) has been used to treat more than 30,000 epilepsy patients worldwide. It’s designed to prevent or interrupt seizures or electrical disturbances in the brain for people with hard to control seizures. Used in conjunction with anti-seizure medications, the VNS uses electrical pulses that are delivered to the vagus nerve in the neck and travel up into the brain.

The good news is that the vagus nerve has very few pain fibers, so it’s…

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[VIDEO] The Effects of Brain Injury on Memory – YouTube

How does brain injury affect memory? Learn about memory impairment following brain injury in this video featuring NeuroRestorative’s Tori Harding. Following a brain injury, the deeply embedded and long-term memories usually remain intact while short-term memory may significantly be affected. Learn about the three memory system areas and strategies that can help a survivor improve their memory.

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[Abstract] Effects of tDCS on motor learning and memory formation: a consensus and critical position paper – Clinical Neurophysiology

Highlights

  • We review investigations of whether tDCS can facilitate motor skill learning and adaptation.
  • We identify several caveats in the existing literature and propose solutions for addressing these.
  • Open Science efforts will improve standardization, reproducibility and quality of future research.

Abstract

Motor skills are required for activities of daily living. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied in association with motor skill learning has been investigated as a tool for enhancing training effects in health and disease. Here, we review the published literature investigating whether tDCS can facilitate the acquisition, retention or adaptation of motor skills. Work in multiple laboratories is underway to develop a mechanistic understanding of tDCS effects on different forms of learning and to optimize stimulation protocols. Efforts are required to improve reproducibility and standardization. Overall, reproducibility remains to be fully tested, effect sizes with present techniques vary over a wide range, and the basis of observed inter-individual variability in tDCS effects is incompletely understood. It is recommended that future studies explicitly state in the Methods the exploratory (hypothesis-generating) or hypothesis-driven (confirmatory) nature of the experimental designs. General research practices could be improved with prospective pre-registration of hypothesis-based investigations, more emphasis on the detailed description of methods (including all pertinent details to enable future modeling of induced current and experimental replication), and use of post-publication open data repositories. A checklist is proposed for reporting tDCS investigations in a way that can improve efforts to assess reproducibility.

Source: Effects of tDCS on motor learning and memory formation: a consensus and critical position paper – Clinical Neurophysiology

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[BROSHURE] Traumatic Brain Injury—What College Disability Specialists and Educators Should Know about Executive Functions

The four-page guide defines executive functions and how they are affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI), and describes the unique challenges that students with TBI face in the college environment. The guide also offers specific academic strategies that may be helpful for deficits in executive function. The guide was developed in collaboration with Chapman University.

Get the PDF Guide

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[Blog Post] Cognitive Issues

 

 

 

 

Rebloged from

Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind

 

Cognitive issues are often the first thing people think of when they think about TBI. After all, it’s your brain, right? And that’s the source of your cognition.

Project LEARNet, which is “A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State”, has some great tutorials on Cognitive and Academic Issues for students after TBI, as well as Self-Regulation/Executive Function Issues. Don’t let the focus on kids / students deter you – these are great resources for anyone who is seeking to better understand TBI.Check out the tutorials on Cognitive and Academic Issues here and Self-Regulation/Executive Function Issues here. They are downloadable PDFs that you can print and take with you – great stuff!

Cognitive Issues after Brain Injury can include:

  1. Altered consciousness
  2. Aura or weird reverie, trance
  3. Trouble concentrating
  4. Trouble making decisions easily
  5. Trouble reading
  6. Analytical skills suffer
  7. Trouble telling what’s real or not
  8. Being easily distracted
  9. Being forgetful, can’t remember
  10. Nightmares
  11. Worrisome thoughts

Source: Cognitive Issues

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[WEB SITE] Coping with Behavior Problems after Head Injury

Identifying Behavior Problems

Head injury survivors may experience a range of neuro ­psychological problems following a traumatic brain injury. Depending on the part of the brain affected and the severity of the injury, the result on any one individual can vary greatly. Personality changes, memory and judgement deficits, lack of impulse control, and poor concentration are all common. Behavioral changes can be stressful for families and caregivers who must learn to adapt their communication techniques, established relationships, and expectations of what the impaired person can or cannot do.In some cases extended cognitive and behavioral rehabilitation in a residential or outpatient setting will be necessary to regain certain skills. A neuropsychologist also may be helpful in assessing cognitive deficits. However, over the long term both the survivor and any involved family members will need to explore what combination of strategies work best to improve the functional and behavioral skills of the impaired individual.

Personality Changes

Even a person who makes a “good” recovery may go through some personality changes. Family members must be careful to avoid always comparing the impaired person with the way he/she “used to be.” Personality changes are often an exaggeration of the person’s pre-injury personality in which personality traits become intensified. Some changes can be quite striking. It may be, for example, the head injury survivor used to be easy going, energetic, and thoughtful and now seems easily angered, self-absorbed, and unable to show enthusiasm for anything. Nonetheless, try not to criticize or make fun of the impaired person’s deficits. This is sure to make the person feel frustrated, angry, or embarrassed.

Continue —> Coping with Behavior Problems after Head Injury | Health Records

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