Scientists Test Whether Brain Stimulation Could Help Sharpen Aging Memory

A lab member tests transcranial brain stimulation on a research subject at Boston University. Courtesy of Rob Reinhart
A lab member tests transcranial brain stimulation on a research subject at Boston University. Courtesy of Rob Reinhart

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BY JONATHAN LAMBERT

It’s an unfortunate fact of life — as we age, we tend to become more forgetful.

Aging brains struggle especially with working memory. Called the workbench of the mind, working memory allows us to store useful bits of information for a few seconds, and use that information across different brain areas to help solve problems, plan, or make decisions.

Researchers are trying to understand why this ability fades as we age, and whether we can slow, or reverse, that decline.

One leading hypothesis contends that working memory works by far-flung brain areas firing synchronously. When two areas are on the same brain wavelength, communication is tight, and working memory functions seamlessly.

But as we age, these brain areas start falling out of step, and these once tightly linked brain areas are no longer on the same page. A study published Monday in Nature Neuroscience demonstrates a link between these mismatched brain rhythms and declines in working memory in older adults and shows that a precise form of electrical stimulation applied to the scalp can coax these brain areas back into sync.

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Are ballot rejection rates going up in Mason County? Data says no.

A few months from now, people across Washington state will vote in this year’s general election. Most will vote by mail, with the ballot mailed to them from their county auditor.
Voters will fill out their ballots, sign the envelopes and drop them off in a ballot box or send them in the post, where a team of election workers will accept those ballots and send them over to a machine to be counted.
Continue Reading Are ballot rejection rates going up in Mason County? Data says no.