Tickling brain part boosts memory cells

September 21st, 2011 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Sep 21 (IANS) Electrically tickling a specific brain part stimulates production of new cells that enhance memory and cognition, says a new Canadian research.

“DBS (deep brain stimulation) has been quite effective for the treatment of… disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease (and other neurologic and psychiatric conditions),” said study author Paul Frankland of Sick Kids hospital.

Throughout life, new cells are born in parts of the hippocampus, the brain’s learning and memory centre, The Journal of Neuroscience reports.

The experiment was conducted in adult mice.

Frankland and colleagues found that an hour of electrical stimulation of the entorhinal cortex, that directly communicates with hippocampus, led to a doubling of new cells in the learning centre, according to a hospital statement.

Although the burst of new cells lasted for only about one week, they developed normally and linked up with nearby brain cells (neurons).

Six weeks later, the researchers evaluated whether the newly integrated cells produced changes in memory. The authors tested how well the animals learned to navigate onto a landing submerged in a small pool of water.

Compared with mice that did not receive the therapy, DBS mice spent more time swimming near the landing, suggesting that stimulation of the entorhinal cortex improved spatial learning.

“To date, the neurobiological basis for the clinical effect of DBS has not been well understood,” said Daniel A. Peterson, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, an expert on stem cells and brain repair who was unaffiliated with the study.

“This study suggests that the stimulation of specific brain circuitry may result in the development of new functional brain cells in particular brain regions,” he added.

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