Scientists have used a noninvasive form of electrostimulation to boost working memory in older people, effectively giving 70-year-olds the thinking abilities of their 20-year-old selves, at least temporarily. (Scientists Fixed People’s Working Memory With Simple Electrical ‘Zaps’ to The Brain)
The study (paywall) is here: Working memory revived in older adults by synchronizing rhythmic brain circuits.
From the abstract:
…After 25 min of stimulation, frequency-tuned to individual brain network dynamics, we observed a preferential increase in neural synchronization patterns and the return of sender–receiver relationships of information flow within and between frontotemporal regions. The end result was rapid improvement in working-memory performance that outlasted a 50 min post-stimulation period.
This study further demonstrates the importance of electrical waves in brain functioning. It targets working memory decline in older adults but similar improvements were found in young adults already experiencing memory deficits.
“We showed that the poor performers who were much younger, in their 20s, could also benefit from the same exact kind of stimulation,” Reinhart says in a statement.
“We could boost their working memory even though they weren’t in their 60s or 70s.” (Scientists Fixed People’s Working Memory With Simple Electrical ‘Zaps’ to The Brain)
News stories on working memory tend to trivialize it as merely a brain function that helps us remember phone numbers or where we put stuff. When in fact…
…working memory is the part of you that organizes and executes action in real-time. All real-time actions—save stupor or deep sleep—require working memory.
Working memory is where your life meets the world, where your existential rubber meets the real-time road.
Working memory is the spear point of the mind as it does life. For this reason, it is the single best key to understanding human psychology. And through this understanding to change it for the better. (Working memory is key to deep psychological transformation)
Other news articles:
Incidentally, Buddhist mindfulness practice can greatly enhance working memory while also adding a metacognitive component to it in circumstances that would not otherwise normally call on metacognition.
FIML practice does something similar in that it adds a layer of psychological and linguistic mindfulness to working memory during acts of interpersonal communication.