Targeted enhancement of cortical-hippocampal brain networks and associative memory

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Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 1054-1057
DOI: 10.1126/science.1252900

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Brain stimulation to improve human memory

The hippocampus is a crucial brain area for certain types of memory. Working with humans, Wang et al. found that a specific type of non-invasive brain stimulation improved memory tests and enhanced information flow between the hippocampus and a number of other brain regions. This increased connectivity was highly specific for the individual target areas selected for each participant.

Science, this issue p. 1054


The influential notion that the hippocampus supports associative memory by interacting with functionally distinct and distributed brain regions has not been directly tested in humans. We therefore used targeted noninvasive electromagnetic stimulation to modulate human cortical-hippocampal networks and tested effects of this manipulation on memory. Multiple-session stimulation increased functional connectivity among distributed cortical-hippocampal network regions and concomitantly improved associative memory performance. These alterations involved localized long-term plasticity because increases were highly selective to the targeted brain regions, and enhancements of connectivity and associative memory persisted for ~24 hours after stimulation. Targeted cortical-hippocampal networks can thus be enhanced noninvasively, demonstrating their role in associative memory.

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