By Sam Blanchard Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 21:00 BST, 17 April 2019 | Updated: 21:00 BST, 17 April 2019
Zapping older people's brains could sharpen their memories to be as good as those of people decades younger.
Scientists found stimulating a certain part of the brain boosted the memory of over-64s who had normal age-related memory loss.
It worked so well the researchers saw no difference in the test results of volunteers who'd had the therapy and younger, healthier adults.
The findings are the latest in a long line of medical trials to delve into the benefits of electrical stimulation on the brain.
Just two weeks ago a similar study found zapping the brains of over-60s can restore their memory power to that of people in their twenties.
Electrical stimulation worked so well in a trial the lead investigator said there was no difference in the test results of people who'd had the therapy and younger, healthier adults (stock image)
Scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois tested the effects of using electrical currents targeted at the brain's hippocampus.
Their 16 participants were aged between 64 and 80 years old and had normal levels of memory problems for their age.
After five days of having their brain zapped with low-level electrical currents for 20 minutes per day, their memory ability was on par with people years younger.
'Older people's memory got better up to the level that we could no longer tell them apart from younger people,' said the lead investigator, Dr Joel Voss.
'They got substantially better.'
Before the electric therapy – called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – the over-64s performed 15 per cent worse in memory tests than 18 to 34-year-olds.
In the first round they scored 40 per cent in computer-based tasks which required them to remember specific, made-up relationships between objects in a test.
Younger participants scored 55 per cent in the previous research, but the scores were equal after the TMS therapy.
The TMS increased activity in the parietal lobe, which controls the hippocampus - it can not be stimulated directly because it is too deep inside the organ.
Forming new memories, learning, and emotional control are all functions influenced by the hippocampus, which the scientists targeted just above the left ear.