Knowing how to improve a person’s mental abilities has been of great interest to psychology and neuroscience researchers like me For many decades. Its ability to improve cognitive function could have many consequences, from improving concentration in high-level positions such as air traffic control to improving memory in people with dementia. According to a new study Brain stimulation It helps to achieve the goal of increasing mental activity.
in the Reinhart Lab At Boston University, my colleagues and I have been investigating the effects of brain stimulation technology— transcranial alternating current stimulation, or tACS – On various mental functions in patients and healthy people.
In this procedure, people wear a plastic cap fitted with electrodes, which deliver weak electrical currents to their head at a specific frequency. By applying these controlled waves to specific brain regions, brain activity can be altered. causing the neurons to fire.
Why is it useful to shoot neurons with oil? Research shows that brain cells Effective communication As they coordinate the rhythm of their firing. Intriguingly, these show rhythmic patterns of brain activity Marked unusual things During neuropsychiatric diseases. The goal of TACS is to externally induce heart rhythms that promote healthy brain function, especially when the brain is unable to produce these rhythms on its own.
However, tACS is a relatively new technology, and how it works is still unclear. Strengthening or stimulating brain rhythms to alter brain activity has been a major debate in the field of brain stimulation. While some studies Finding evidence Changes in brain activity and brain function with tACS, others suggest that the waves can be used in humans. It can be very weak to have a direct effect.
When conflicting information is encountered in the scientific literature, it may be useful to conduct a similar study It’s called a meta-analysis It shows how consistent the evidence is across multiple studies. A previous meta-analysis conducted in 2016 He found promising evidence Use of tACS to alter mental function. However, the number of studies has more than doubled since then. It has also become a blueprint for tACS technologies. Increasingly sophisticated.
We plan to conduct a new meta-analysis of studies using tACS to alter cognitive function. According to our knowledge, this is work The largest and most comprehensive meta-analysis Yet on this topic, there are over 100 published studies involving a total of over 2,800 human participants.
After compiling more than 300 measures of brain function across all studies, we looked Continuous and rapid improvement In mental function with tACS. When examining specific cognitive functions such as memory and attention, we observed that tACS produced the strongest improvements in Executive functionor the ability to adapt in the face of new, surprising or conflicting information.
We noticed improvements in short- and long-term attention span and information recall. Taken together, these results suggest that tACS may specifically improve certain brain functions, at least in the short term.
To test the effectiveness of tACS in people particularly vulnerable to changes in cognitive function, we examined data from studies that included the elderly and people with neuropsychiatric disorders. We have seen reliable evidence in both populations Improvements in cognitive function with tACS.
Interestingly, we found that a special type of tACS that targets two brain regions simultaneously and uses the way they communicate with each other can help both. Improving or reducing cognitive function. This bidirectional effect on cognitive function may be particularly important in the clinic. For example, some psychiatric conditions, such as depression, may involve a reduced ability to process rewards, while others, such as bipolar disorder, may involve an overactive one. Award processing system. If tACS can alter brain function in both directions, researchers may be able to develop flexible and targeted designs that meet specific clinical needs.
Advances in the field of tACS are offering researchers the ability to safely enhance brain function in a non-invasive way that does not require drugs. Current data in the literature suggest that tACS is promising and that improving the design may help produce robust and lasting changes in brain function.
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