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Magnetic Stimulation Boosts Memory In Humans

Soulskill posted about 1 month ago | from the better-learning-through-fridge-magnets dept.

Medicine 74

sciencehabit writes: Our memories are annoyingly glitchy. Names, dates, birthdays, and the locations of car keys fall through the cracks, losses that accelerate at an alarming pace with age and in neurodegenerative diseases. Now, by applying electromagnetic pulses through the skull to carefully targeted brain regions, researchers have found a way to boost memory performance in healthy people. The new study (abstract) sheds light on the neural networks that support memories and may lead to therapies for people with memory deficits, researchers say. Similar studies have been performed using electric current.

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"Carefully targetted" (3, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about 1 month ago | (#47784515)

Somehow, I think I'll be seeing bullshit products on infomercials that are "proven" to enhance memory that won't actually do anything besides "be magnets that cost $100".(5 easy payments of $19.99)

Re:"Carefully targetted" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784721)

Instead of a magnetic arm bracelet, it will be a magnetic halo for your head in order to give you god-like memory abilities. (only 5 easy payments of $19.99)

Re:"Carefully targetted" (3, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 1 month ago | (#47785803)

Instead of a magnetic arm bracelet, it will be a magnetic halo for your head in order to give you god-like memory abilities. (only 5 easy payments of $19.99)

Bah! I've been doing this for years... people just couldn't see it because of the aluminum foil!

Re: "Carefully targetted" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784957)

Strong magnetic fields have been known for quite some time to boost human memory. Just work at a pharmaceutical company or university with several NMR instruments and climb under one a few times a day where the probe is. Very strong magnetic field there, just don't have any magnetic metals on you - dangerous, and things like paper clips can become projectiles towards the instrument. A hammer or deal chair will likely quench the magnet.

Re: "Carefully targetted" (0)

X-Ray Artist (1784416) | about 1 month ago | (#47785457)

Strong magnetic fields have also been linked to brain tumors. There is still some argument about that, though. I can't remember if there has been any definitive answers.

Re: "Carefully targetted" (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about 1 month ago | (#47786291)

"Strong magnetic fields have also been linked to brain tumors."

No.

Re: "Carefully targetted" (2)

LduN (3754243) | about 1 month ago | (#47786651)

It's not a tumahh! It's a memory bundle

Re:"Carefully targetted" (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 1 month ago | (#47786369)

Well, as far as those infomercials go, I can tell you that those products actually... ah, ... wanted to say, uhm, ... uh, -- I forget what it was.

Let's get this out of the way... (4, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47784519)

These are magnetic pulses. No, strapping magnets to your wrist/ankle/belly/tinfoil-hat still won't accomplish anything.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (3, Funny)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 1 month ago | (#47784541)

Oh great, NOW you tell me. I already stole all the magnets from the company kitchen and made a hat out of them. Oh well, if nothing else it'll be a great conversation starter.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (5, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47784623)

It's the rate of change of magnetic flux that does the trick. You get changing flux from a changing electrical current, or from a moving magnet. So maybe if you loaded the magnets into a shotgun, then fired them through your brain, you'd notice an effect.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784735)

"So maybe if you loaded the magnets into a shotgun, then fired them through your brain, you'd notice an effect."

I almost spit coffee on my desk. Good one.

Re: Let's get this out of the way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47786055)

You don't want to make a bunch of holes in your skull so point the gun at your eye socket. Then wear sunglasses as it will be a sensitive area for a couple hours.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 1 month ago | (#47784765)

So maybe if you loaded the magnets into a shotgun, then fired them through your brain, you'd notice an effect.

This gets my vote for Best Quote of the Day.

Wait, he thought, this was a poor life choice... (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about 1 month ago | (#47785067)

It's the rate of change of magnetic flux that does the trick.

So, in theory, standing near a nuclear explosion to get a direct cranial hit from the EMP it generates should do wonders for your mental capacity....

Re:Wait, he thought, this was a poor life choice.. (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 1 month ago | (#47785147)

It's the rate of change of magnetic flux that does the trick.

So, in theory, standing near a nuclear explosion to get a direct cranial hit from the EMP it generates should do wonders for your mental capacity....

For some definition of "wonders", yes.

Re:Wait, he thought, this was a poor life choice.. (1)

sjames (1099) | about a month ago | (#47796189)

Yes. You will absolutely remember every detail of the explosion for the rest of your life.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 1 month ago | (#47785301)

So maybe if you loaded the magnets into a shotgun, then fired them through your brain, you'd notice an effect.

You know, I've heard that you get the same effect by using rocks as with magnets. You don't hear about that as much because the medical industry wants to keep you in the dark and hooked on expensive magnetic technology instead of actually curing the issue for once and for all, cheaply and effectively. But take my word for it - rocks work just as well and only costs the time it takes to find the right sized chunks of gravel. It's just like how the medical industry suppresses cannabis.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (2)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 1 month ago | (#47785481)

No silly. If you blast magnets through your brain you'll destroy your brain tissue.

Much better to go put your head on the track of a mag lev train. Your brain tissue will be fine and you'll get super magnetic field strength

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

ebyrob (165903) | about 1 month ago | (#47785503)

oh, so I should sit on the magnet and spin?

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

volpe (58112) | about 1 month ago | (#47785609)

I You get changing flux from a changing electrical current, or from a moving magnet.

How about (iron-rich) blood *moving* past a stationary magnet?

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47788389)

The peak rate of flow for blood appears to be well under 1 m/s, even in the largest vessels. No, you won't get a noticeable effect.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

Livius (318358) | about 1 month ago | (#47786837)

So maybe if you loaded the magnets into a shotgun, then fired them through your brain, you'd notice an effect.

I suspect you wouldn't notice anything. Ever.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47785641)

I have a large supply of Copper Personal Health Improvement Disks. Keeping one in your pocket or in your loafer will provide ongoing positive health benefits. Only $24.95. They are embossed with the profile of Abraham Lincoln. For our Canadian customers, they are embossed with the profile of Queen Elizabeth.

Don't wait! Order today!

But wait, there's more... order before 5 PM today and we'll throw in a second C-PHID absolutely FREE! Just pay separate shipping and handling.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 1 month ago | (#47784543)

^but strapping a subwoofer to your head might, then?

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47784637)

You're on the right track, but I think you'd still be short on power by several orders of magnitude. Even if you strap it directly to your head, your subwoofer's still only good for causing headaches and annoying bystanders.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

GNious (953874) | about 1 month ago | (#47784779)

perhaps a 5kg skull-mounted tactile transducer might do the trick?

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (3, Funny)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | about 1 month ago | (#47784791)

subwoofers ...causing headaches and annoying bystanders.

Subwoofers - causing annoying bystanders for over 50 years!

Don't you just love the playful ambiguities of the English language?

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 1 month ago | (#47789623)

subwoofers ...causing headaches and annoying bystanders.

Subwoofers - causing annoying bystanders for over 50 years!

Don't you just love the playful ambiguities of the English language?

Only because someone doesn't know how to properly use a comma.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 1 month ago | (#47785687)

Howard Stern told women to sit on subwoofers.

Au Contraire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784655)

This guy [alexchiu.com] is living forever because magnets.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784911)

How is a "magnetic pulse" different from the effects of a magnet moving around your head? And how hard is to create a "magnetic pulse"? Is it rocket science? And, in general, how do magnets work?

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 1 month ago | (#47785045)

So, what you're saying is that you need spinning magnets?

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47785129)

No, not spinning, reciprocating -- moving in and out.

You know, like the ones in that Insane Clown Posse song that everyone keeps quoting.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 1 month ago | (#47785143)

These are magnetic pulses. No, strapping magnets to your wrist/ankle/belly/tinfoil-hat still won't accomplish anything.

That means they can sell you a battery pack for the halo.

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47787313)

So you are telling me it would be a bad idea to stick my head in the LHC?

Oh dear. I think we might have a problem here.

CHIROPRACTIC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784549)

The same nonsense can be said about chiropractic. It has been proven over and over again that verterbral subluxations are the root cause of many ailments and over time cause diseases like diabetes, cancer, and ovarian cysts. Once the disease has taken root, it is incurable by chiropractic, but if the subluxations are routinely taken care of, all of these diseases can be eliminated before they happen! Find your chiropractor TODAY! [acatoday.org]

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784651)

It is not 1900 anymore. Only nutjobs, hucksters, and credulous people believe (or peddle) that crap.

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47787369)

** WHOOSH! **

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 1 month ago | (#47784703)

Hmm, your belief in chiropraxy seems to be a symptom of a transfinite nth-dimensional neurotronic gluocyte infestation. You're lucky I read your post when I did; continued belief could have caused severe cognitive limitation and/or deficiency, but, out of the goodness of my heart, for only 49,99$ a month, I will make sure to safeguard you from continued influence by daily astral projection sessions.

(tl;dr: chiropractic subluxation is a thing that does not exist)

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784849)

It's a shame Dr.Bob [slashdot.org] is no longer with us. Your troll is a mere 1/1000th the power of his.

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47785047)

It's a shame Dr.Bob [slashdot.org] is no longer with us. Your troll is a mere 1/1000th the power of his.

Wow. That's an impressive body of work.

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 1 month ago | (#47785215)

By the laws of Homeopathy, that makes it 1000 times more powerful.

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784905)

Hmm, how come when I Google it, it turns out the WHO has a definition of chiropractic subluxation? That doesn't seem like a thing that doesn't exist. It seems unlikely to cause every disease OP listed, but it is not "a thing that does not exist".

FTR:

"A lesion or dysfunction in a joint or motion segment in which alignment, movement integrity and/or physiological function are altered, although contact between joint surfaces remains intact. It is essentially a functional entity, which may influence biomechanical and neural integrity."

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 1 month ago | (#47786047)

The malleus maleficarum has a definition of witches, that doesn't mean witches exist.

Re:CHIROPRACTIC (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 1 month ago | (#47786319)

"The same nonsense can be said about chiropractic. It has been proven over and over again that verterbral subluxations are the root cause of many ailments..."

Doctor Bob, is that you? We thought you had died of a subluxation.

Didn't we ridiculed this one a decade ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784647)

Alex Chiu and his immortality device...
http://www.alexchiu.com/

Did you notice in the article (2)

frog_strat (852055) | about 1 month ago | (#47784895)

That the wild ass speculation at the end is given equal footing with a formal study ? Having had a couple of mini-strokes, and having a job that mostly involves concentration, this topic is of interest to me. I can say that adderall (took it a couple of times) and my nootropic cocktail definitely help.

It is annoying how many fundamentalists.there are on here. Intelligent only in the cognitive domain. Science requires agnosticism. Engineering requires pessimism.

Re:Did you notice in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47785191)

"nootropic cocktail"

as in "pack of cigarettes and pot of coffee" ?

Re:Did you notice in the article (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 1 month ago | (#47785441)

Cocaine: Give you diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain.

Re:Did you notice in the article (1)

frog_strat (852055) | about 1 month ago | (#47785763)

No, it is 800mg piracetam capsule, then in my morning Atkins shake I add 250mg Alpha GPC (choline - vitamin B) and 30mg Noopept. Reddit has a good Nootropics section. This stuff helps me concentrate longer and better, Check it out. Kind of related to the movie Limitless.

Re:Did you notice in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47787323)

"This stuff helps me concentrate longer and better, Check it out. Kind of related to the movie Limitless."
Prove it.
"Science requires agnosticism. Engineering requires pessimism."

Re:Did you notice in the article (1)

frog_strat (852055) | about 1 month ago | (#47787529)

>> Prove it.

My claim: Two o'clock comes before 5 o'clock.
Two o'clock: when concentration problems start with no noots
Five o'clock: when concentration problems start with noots
Tested daily. Of course you do not have phenomenological access to my mind.

Proof that this is somewhat related to Limitless ? Well you can watch the movie and see if you agree.

On Reddit you will see many people who use noots test themselves regularly on Lumosity or the Stanford tests, to try to rule out placebo effect, which is important.

pulsing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47784901)

I've got this several pound magnet off an old subwoofer. I'm banging it against my head to get the pulsing effect. How long should I do this for??

Re:pulsing (4, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47785179)

"How long" isn't the question, but "how fast". You should be accelerating it to a few kilometers/sec, then reversing its velocity when it's a few millimeters from your scalp. You should probably do this in a vacuum, to avoid confounding influences from shockwaves.

Re:pulsing (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 1 month ago | (#47785727)

What about living under high tension transmission lines? :)

Re:pulsing (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a month ago | (#47795413)

Nope. "High tension" means high voltage, which is done so they can get away with low current, which means low magnetic (b-field) coupling. And the rate-of-change is also low, because it's a 60hz sine wave, not an aggressive fast-rise-time pulse. Finally, it's a line (approximately), not a coil -- the magnetic flux is proportional to the number of turns, and for a transmission line the number of turns is 1.

Now, the electric field effects from high-tension lines are another matter entirely.

MRI doesn't help though? (1)

B5_geek (638928) | about 1 month ago | (#47785005)

Have there been any studies correlating MRI's to better memory?

And/or everybody gets an MRI as part part of your 'getting older checkups' like a colonoscapy?

I had a brain tumour, and lobectomy to remove it. my memory is kinda crappy (except for things that I deem are *VERY* important (like wifes birthday).

I want something to fix me!

Re:MRI doesn't help though? (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | about 1 month ago | (#47785683)

after being fixed would you stop humping the furniture?

Re:MRI doesn't help though? (1)

mick129 (126225) | about three weeks ago | (#47829099)

MRI is considered to be for passive viewing - I is for imaging. With TMS, on the other hand, the S is stimulation. It's intended to create an electrical response in specific areas of your brain using a specially shaped and targeted magnetic paddle. It's not that magnetism in general is beneficial. It's just that magnetism was used in the specifically targeted electrical stimulation. The benefit of using magnetism with TMS is that the stimulation is indirect - it doesn't require wires and brain surgery, just a paddle pressed against your scalp.

Memory decline (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about 1 month ago | (#47785041)

I have actually found my memory has been getting better with age, but I had a horrible memory as a child. I've been finding that the more I learn, the more ways I have to associate knowledge, allowing me to better recall or learn new knowledge.

Re:Memory decline (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 1 month ago | (#47785157)

I have actually found my memory has been getting better with age, but I had a horrible memory as a child. I've been finding that the more I learn, the more ways I have to associate knowledge, allowing me to better recall or learn new knowledge.

I'm guessing you don't watch a lot of TV.

Re:Memory decline (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 1 month ago | (#47786021)

I watch A LOT of anime, like 2-12 hours per day, but my day job involves a lot of thinking, and my general hobbies involve a lot of thinking and reading/learning. I'm on /., so use whatever stereotype.

An example is I was also very interested in Japanese many years back in college, around 22. I started to to self teach the Hiragana. I only made it a small way in because I had issues remembering the characters, even though I spent over a month trying to remember them. I'm now 30 and I have recently taken up trying to learn Japanese again, and in two days, I had the entire Hiragana memorized to where I could quickly read the characters. That's a HUGE difference in ability to remember. Same thing with the Katakana.

For nearly my entire life, I've had issues remembering people's names. It took me months to learn the names of the people who sat next to me in class throughout my entire schooling life. Even post graduation, it took me months to learn the under 10 people's names that I worked with every day. Now I hear a name once, and I almost always remember it.

I must say that my interest have recently changed in the past few years. I feel as if I'm learning less and less new stuff in my field of expertise and my interest in other stuff that I used to hate(mostly because of my lack to remember stuff), like history or other cultures, has dramatically increased. It's kind of strange, because I'm highly introverted, but my quest to learn is forcing me to go outside my normal areas of comfort that I have had for my entire life until now.

F*cking magnets. They really work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47785197)

These miracles keep happening.

Here come the cow magnet hats (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 1 month ago | (#47785201)

Here come the cow magnet hats

I'd rather exercise (1)

myid (3783581) | about 1 month ago | (#47785469)

I want to take care of my mind too, but I'd rather do so by exercising. I've read several articles, including this one [medicaldaily.com] , which said that exercising helps protect your brain from decline. I'm not a doctor, but exercise just seems safer than applying electromagnetic pulses through the skull.

MRI did have some effect with my wife (2)

Frans Faase (648933) | about 1 month ago | (#47785745)

In 2006 my wife reported that her memory improved after she had an MRI taken of her head when she was suffering from memory problems. A few months later, also based on lumbal puncture, she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers disease. She reported that her thinking became much more clear. The effect only lasted for half a day. When I told her neurologists, she laughed it away.

Re:MRI did have some effect with my wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47786345)

iow, 2 MRIs a day keep the doctor away.

Re:MRI did have some effect with my wife (1)

mick129 (126225) | about three weeks ago | (#47829109)

MRI is considered to be for passive viewing - I is for imaging. With TMS, on the other hand, the S is stimulation. It's intended to create an electrical response in specific areas of your brain using a specially shaped and targeted magnetic paddle. It's not that magnetism in general is beneficial. It's just that magnetism was used in the specifically targeted electrical stimulation. The benefit of using magnetism with TMS is that the stimulation is indirect - it doesn't require wires and brain surgery, just a paddle pressed against your scalp. Your story sounds like either the placebo effect or coincidental timing.

Allan Snyder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47785899)

Check this guy out Allan Snyder (Crazy looking savant), He has been doing TMS research in to unlocking the potential of the brain for some time now. I would really like to see if this Dr. Joel Voss has looked in to this research as the article did not go in to much detail.

You know what else produces magnetic fields? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47786819)

Cell phones also produce magnetic fields.

And popular (denial-based) wisdom tells us that THEY CANNOT DO NOT NEVER EVER NEVER FUCK OFF I LOVE MY GADGET THEREFORE IT IS NOT NOT NOT BAD have any effect on cognition. They're non-ionizing! The sun produces more EM, etc.

The many studies which show measurable effects on cognition/behavior often demonstrate positive results at very low powers. You don't need to burn anything. You just need to produce a magnetic field.

Something to keep in mind (if you still can), next time you wade into an EM rich environment.

Re:You know what else produces magnetic fields? (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 1 month ago | (#47788417)

In related news, since staring at the sun through a large telescope can damage your retina, DON'T DARE LOOK AT YOUR PHONE SCREEN! It emits DEADLY PHOTONS of electromagnetic RADIATION!!11!

Something to keep in mind should you ever decide to timidly stick your head out of your cave.

Re:You know what else produces magnetic fields? (1)

Anonanonaon (3425201) | about 1 month ago | (#47789847)

I know you're being facetious, but the computer screen is actually a pretty good example to work with in explaining this point, which I will attempt...

Screens don't damage your retina. (I actually spent a few days digging through this subject in an effort to verify that one way or the other). However, they can have other deleterious physiological/neurological effects, one of which being blue light, which at night can serve to mess up your sleep rhythms and your melatonin levels.

Understanding these effects allows me to modulate my use of screen time intelligently, and if not mitigate the risks, take responsibility for them. I do not pretend that my circadian rhythm isn't being screwed up as I type this at 3:00 AM, for instance. I accept that. I know what I'm doing to myself, and I'm willing to pay for it because the benefits are big enough and the downside is manageable.

The same process can be extended to cell phone EM. After doing the requisite research (which most people simply prefer not to bother with), I found that bad-news effects were such that I consider the appropriate response to be not owning a cell phone and to use ethernet cables where reasonably possible. -Because those are easy measures and I don't consider the benefit of wireless technology to be worth the cost.

I've made an informed decision. Most people cannot make that claim because they avoid truly informing themselves.

Of course, you can't avoid cell phone EM these days. Too many ignorant/compliant people walk around with them, radiating everybody in their vicinity. -I can usually feel it when a bunch of Wifi zoodles cluster around me with their microwave emitters, and that sucks. But I can certainly minimize the pollution in my own space, so I do.

F'ing magents (1)

Andrzej Lipski (3783893) | about a month ago | (#47794113)

how do they work?
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