Potential Benefit of Using Transcranial Direct/Alternating Current Stimulation in Boosting Memory

The world we live in overwhelms our senses with an overabundance of knowledge. Handling such an abundant amount of knowledge every day and every second is not within a human brain’s capacity. The most important key factor, our attention/focus, is a remarkable cognitive process that enables us to prioritize the most important piece of information to be handled at the right time in the right way.

Today, scientists have worked day and night to bring in new scientific ways that can help us boost our memory and thus have introduced one of the ways; Neurostimulation.

WHAT IS NEUROSTIMULATION?

Neurostimulation is a process of purposely altering the activity of brain (certain regions of the cortex; an important layer of the brain associated with memory, attention, cognition, language and consciousness) applied either invasively or non-invasively. Here, we are talking about non-invasive neurostimulation and particularly about electromagnetic methods such as transcranial electrical stimulation that involves direct current (tDCS) or alternating current (tDACS). [CITATION San17 \l 16393 ] This is a newly developed technique which regulates and adjusts cortical excitability and activity. tDCS/ tACS are thought to have an effect on neural membrane potentials by electrical stimulation using random frequencies. It is said that these stimulations induce long-term-potentiation- like cortical plasticity. They are very beneficial for increasing blood flow, improving depressed symptoms and for learning faster.

HOW IT WORKS:

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a scientific way of neurostimulation that involves the use of constant and low current delivered directly to the targeted brain area through small electrodes.

It uses “anode” and “cathode”, two electrodes of different polarities that are connected to a 9-V battery. A small amount of current with low intensity is passed from one electrode to another while allowing the current to rise and then keeping it constant for a certain time. Sufficient current penetrates this way into the brain. [CITATION Lei14 \l 16393 ]

BENEFITS OF TRANSCRANIAL ELECTRIC STIMULATION:

  1. tDCS Improves Learning:

tDCS can improve learning in people suffering from atypical brain development at structural and functional levels. An improvement in learning motor skills task was seen when the primary motor cortex was stimulated with tDCS. A study found that tDCS actually improved the rate of learning when used on the right inferior frontal and right parietal cortex. Another study found that daily sessions of tDCS significantly enhanced motor sequence learning.[ CITATION 13H18 \l 16393 ] Since the electrical current is kept quite low, any kind of major physical side effects, like tissue damaging, have not been observed in experimentations yet. [CITATION Sci13 \l 16393 ]

  1. tDCS Enhances Language Learning and Abilities:

tDCS improve language fluency and language memory when left frontal lobes are stimulated. tDCS have also been reportedly said to improve language performance and word retrieval in people with language impairment. It has also been reported that tDCS brings improvements in verbal categorization, grammar learning and reading efficiency. It is argumentative that tDCS is a reassuring tool to evaluate the working of lateral Prefrontal Cortex.[CITATION Lan15 \l 16393 ]

  1. tDCS Improves Sleep Quality:

Memory boosting is indirectly associated with the quality of sleep we get. While it is common to have sleep disorders in manic and depressed phases, it is being clearly understood that sleep disorders are one of the major causes of unclear focus and poor attention level in a person. In a study, 3 weeks of continuous anodal stimulation of the pre-motor cortex resulted in significantly improved sleep quality and social behaviour in comparison to control treatments. Cathodal tDCS was given on the right cerebellar cortex and anodal tDCS over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The intensity of current was 2mA and was given for 20 minutes. During several investigations, it was surprisingly found that prefrontal-cerebellar tDCS are actually effective.[ CITATION 13H18 \l 16393 ]

[CITATION Pre14 \l 16393 ]

  1. tDCS Improves Working Memory:

Working memory is a short term memory concerned with perception of immediate conscious and processing of linguistics. Working memory is of great importance for productive human behavior. Stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex has been reported to improve the working memory of a person. But it was noticed that the effect of tDCS was more beneficial to those people with a history of relatively low working memory. [ CITATION Aug17 \l 16393 ]

  1. tDCS Improves Memory Enhancement:

tDCS have somewhat proved to be a productive technology to improve physical and cognitive performance. tDCS improve the neural activity by conducting a weak current through the scalp via electrodes and then transferring the current back towards the exit electrodes. The mechanism of modification of tDCS involves both synaptic and non synaptic actions on cells(neural/non-neural). [ CITATION tDC17 \l 16393 ]

CONCLUSION:

Transcranial direct/alternating Current (tDCS) is one of the most talked about and promising techniques of neurostimulation. Just as discussed above, tDCS are very beneficial for boosting one’s memory. As compared to other neurostimulation devices, this one is relatively small and portable (operated with battery). It is also less risky as very minor side effects are reported to date if any. Their friendly and easy-to-use nature makes it highly accessible for new users and people who are keenly interested in trying it out on themselves on their own. Different tutorials are also available on how to make the best use of them. [ CITATION Tra09 \l 16393 ]

 

 

 

 

References

13 Health Benefits of tDCS: A Comprehensive Review. (2018, feb 22). Retrieved from Self Hacked: https://www.selfhacked.com/blog/tdcs-benefits/

about Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation. (2014). Retrieved from Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/transcranial-alternating-current-stimulation

Augmentation of working memory training by (tDCS). (2017, April 21). Retrieved from Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-01055-1

Can transcranial electrical stimulation improve learning? (2013, Oct). Retrieved from Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187892931300025X

Language and Memory Improvements following tDCS of Left Lateral Prefrontal Cortex. (2015, Nov 3). Retrieved from National Centre for Biotechnology Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4631603/

Non-invasive Brain Stimulation. (2017, 12 06). Retrieved from Springer Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41745-017-0046-0

Prefronto-Cerebellar Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Improves Sleep Quality. (2014, Dec 7). Retrieved from National Centre for Biotechnology Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4273569/

tDCS for Memory Enhancement. (2017, Jan 11). Retrieved from National Centre for Biotechnology Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5225120/

Transcranial direct current stimulation. (2009, May). Retrieved from Scielo: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=s1516-44462009000500006&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en

 

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