This Might Jog Your Memory


Bona Kim

Direct electrical stimulation of the human amygdala, a region of the brain known to regulate memory and emotional behaviors, can enhance next-day recognition of images when applied immediately after the images are viewed, neuroscientists have found.

The findings are the first example of electrical brain stimulation in humans giving a time-specific boost to memory lasting more than a few minutes, the scientists say. Patients’ recognition only increased for stimulated images, and not for control images presented in between the stimulated images. The experiments were conducted at Emory University Hospital in fourteen epilepsy patients undergoing intracranial monitoring, an invasive procedure for the diagnosis of seizure origin, during which electrodes are introduced into the brain.

“We were able to tag specific memories to be better remembered later,” says co-first author Cory Inman, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery, who calls the result more of a scientific finding than a therapeutic one.

“We see this as a platform for the further study of memory enhancement,” says senior author and Emory neurology and neurosurgery professor Jon Willie. “The time specificity enables a lot of other experiments, since we know that there’s not a carry-over effect from one image to the next.”

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