When tickling the brain to stimulate memory, location matters | Science News

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When tickling the brain to stimulate memory, location matters

Zapping white, not gray, matter improves memory test results, new research suggests

6:03pm, March 26, 2018
brain white matter

WHITE MAGIC  Targeting parts of the brain's white matter, the tissue that connects different brain regions (shown), may be key to whether stimulating the brain with electricity will work as a treatment for memory problems and other ills.

BOSTON — Conflicting results on whether brain stimulation helps or hinders memory may be explained by the electrodes’ precise location: whether they’re tickling white matter or gray matter.

New research on epilepsy patients suggests that stimulating a particular stretch of the brain’s white matter — tissue that transfers nerve signals around the brain — improves performance on memory tests. But stimulating the same region’s gray matter, which contains the brain’s nerve cells, seems to impair memory, Nanthia Suthana, a cognitive neuroscientist at UCLA, reported March 25 at a meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society.

A groundbreaking study by Suthana and colleagues, published in 2012 the New England Journal of Medicine, found that people performed better

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