Neurostimulation may offer hope for memory enhancement in epilepsy

Posted Sep 14 2018 in Memory / Epilepsy general / Living with epilepsy

Despite memory difficulties being a top concern for people with epilepsy, there are currently no existing treatments available to directly target memory issues that are related to epilepsy. This was what motivated researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University, in the U.S. to investigate neurostimulation. Stephen Meisenhelter and Dr Barbara Jobst reviewed 61 recent research studies on the various kinds of neurostimulation, and its’ potential use for memory enhancement in epilepsy.

Neurostimulation, or brain stimulation, is the delivery of electrical pulses to the nervous system at scheduled intervals. The researchers investigated a variety of neurostimulation techniques, including transcranial methods – where electrical pulses are applied to the scalp, intracranial methods – where electrical pulses are directly applied to the brain, and vagus nerve stimulation – where only the vagus nerve is stimulated. The vagus nerve is one of the twelve cranial nerves, and it’s purpose is to send messages from the brain to the body and vice versa. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy has recently been studies as a treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy.

The researchers uncovered that the type of neurostimulation with the most evidence for successful memory enhancement was intracranial neurostimulation, which is stimulation that is directly applied to the brain. Transcranial and vagus nerve stimulation offered some benefits, but there was less evidence for these types.

Although the scientists say that neurostimulation techniques for memory enhancement are largely in the experimental phase, neurostimulation may be promising as a future technique for epilepsy-related memory deficits.

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