Researchers at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine found a way to stimulate an area of the brain that can strengthen memory and it is not in pill-form interestingly enough.
“For those of us with MS who are notorious for our memory issues,” says Sierra Blankenship of Lima, “this has got to be the best news ever. Unless you have MS, or know someone with MS, you just would not believe the things that we have done or even said sometimes because of this problem.”
The area called the entorhinal cortex, the main interface between the hippocampus and neocortex, was the focus and “critically it was the stimulation at the gateway into the hippocampus, and not the hippocampus itself, that proved effective,” said Dr. Fried the school's professor of neurosurgery.
Researchers followed seven epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted in their brains, electrodes that were there to pinpoint the area of their seizures, and they were able to monitor their brain activity while memories were being formed by using a game.
Each patient played a video game that involved the layout of a city and a taxi that would pick up passengers and drop them off at a destination found within the city. Researchers were able to see if deep-brain stimulation of the entorhinal cortex or stimulation of the hippocampus was what changed memory and they found memory was strengthened when stimulation was applied to the entorhinal cortex.
"When we stimulated the nerve fibers in the patients' entorhinal cortex during learning, they later recognized landmarks and navigated the routes more quickly," said Fried. "They even learned to take shortcuts, reflecting improved spatial memory."
The findings may see future neuroprothetic devices that would stimulate the brain during specific stages of processing and the greatest part is that strengthening the memory this way doesn't need continuous stimulation; only a “boost” for when learning would be needed.
The article talks of the millions affected by Alzheimer's and Dr. Fried himself brought up early dementia, but considering researchers at OSU were able to show losing Myelin, the coating around the nerves in the brain, was more than the loss of “just” a coating, help for memory is clearly something needed for those with MS as well.
Researchers at OSU were able to show cause and affect of demyelination and how it relates to the hippocampus.
Right now, Fried said their findings “should be interpreted with caution” because of the small number of people who were followed, but it does open a window, albeit small, of opportunity for future studies.
Either by these researchers, or others, it doesn't matter. Finding ways for millions of people to battle a part of their disease that can create such sadness and frustration is something to look forward to.
For more information about myelin please see:
The Myelin Project can be reached for more information at: Myelin.Org/Contact.
Myelin Repair Foundation can be reached at: MyelinRepair.Org/Contact
Further interesting reading:
For more info: for those who live in Lima, Ohio, the Northwestern Ohio MS Chaptercan be reached at: 401 Tomahawk Drive, Maumee, OH at (419) 897-7263. They are located approximately an hour and a half from Lima, Ohio and 45 minutes from Findlay, Ohio. For directions please click here at Bing Maps.
Follow Lori Friend on twitter @: twitter.com/lwilsonfriend
Sources: sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120208180057.htm, nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1107212; ucla.edu/; msactivesource.com/ms-and-memory.xml?utm_campaign=Living%20With%20MS&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=MS%20%26%20Memory&utm_term=ms%20memory%20symptoms