Our working memory would decline when we get aged or have medical conditions, such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or dementia. This may have an impact all nearly all types of daily activities.
A recent study done by scientists from Italy and the United Kingdom has found that a combination of brain stimulation and cognitive training may help improve our working memory.
All results were published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
In this project, brain stimulation and cognitive training focus the same brain region called the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for spatial information.
Brain stimulation comes from a light electric current to the scalp.
For memory training, all participants, who are between 55 and 76 years old, play some online game with a special software designed to improve the efficiency or capacity of working memory.
Specifically, players had to keep track of a lot of information and inform whenever they notice a match to an object they saw before. These games are challenging and intensive, but also fun and engaging.
The results suggested that the repetition of these cognitive challenges may improve brain plasticity, which refers to the ability of the brain to adjust and adapt to a new experience.
Brain stimulation may further promote plasticity and boost the effect of cognitive training on memory by starting and increasing activity in certain brain networks. This effect is clearer in those people who need the training more.
The technique in this study would be very helpful to those who begin to experience memory decline.
Despite of many factors, the elderly tends to have a lower working memory. This is when a combination of brain stimulation and cognitive training can be especially effective.
The findings of the research have suggested that older people who are over 69 years old with executive dysfunction would get the most benefit from this combination. In addition, it is suitable for those with a declining working memory beyond a specific threshold.
With the current data, it can be challenging to measure an optimum level of memory loss for the technique to be effective. Further research is needed to answer this important question. It is necessary to gather a lot of data from a good sample of healthy people.
The authors hope that this study may contribute to the development of an affordable, yet effective method for people to use at home to boost their working memory.