Neuroscience

Intermittent brain stimulation

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Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1367-1368
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6358.1367-b

Electrical stimulation of the brain to improve its function has been much debated. In an experimental test of working memory, Liu et al. showed that intermittent stimulation of the nucleus basalis in the forebrain of young adult Rhesus macaques improved their memory by up to five times. In contrast, continuous stimulation of the same region impaired memory. Improved memory depended on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, given that the effect was blocked by antagonists of cholinergic receptors. The drug donepezil, which blocks cholinesterase's ability to degrade acetylcholine, restored memory performance in animals that received continual stimulation. Intermittent deep brain stimulation could boost the effects of acetylcholine on neurons and/or increase blood flow to the brain to improve memory.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.021 (2017).

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