Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken over numerous functions, this one though is very significant as far as brain health and memory are concerned. Most of the time, traumatic brain injury impacts the short-term memory of patients. Artificial intelligence (AI) guided electrical stimulation in the brains of patients with traumatic brain injury improves memory, a collaborative study shows.
This expands on earlier studies including epilepsy patients who had not suffered a severe brain injury. The new study serves as a proof-of-concept for upcoming AI-guided brain stimulation therapies, which may be used to treat severe memory loss as a result of brain trauma.
Electrical stimulation in patients with traumatic brain injury led to an average 19% boost in recalling words
One to two percent of the population has a disability related to traumatic brain injury (TBI), and short-term memory issues are among their most prevalent impairments. Electrical stimulation has become a practical method for helping persons with different neurological illnesses regain some function in their brains.
A recent study published in the journal Brain Stimulation demonstrates that targeted electrical stimulation improved word memory by an average of 19% in patients with traumatic brain damage.
A group of neuroscientists under the direction of University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Michael Jacob Kahana researched TBI patients with electrodes implanted, examined brain data as patients studied phrases, and applied a machine-learning algorithm to anticipate brief memory failures. Youssef Ezzyat, a psychology professor at Wesleyan University, and Paul Wanda, a research scientist at Penn, were among the additional lead writers.
Right stimulation at the right time
“The last decade has seen tremendous advances in the use of brain stimulation as a therapy for several neurological and psychiatric disorders including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and depression,” Kahana says. “Memory loss, however, represents a huge burden on society. We lack effective therapies for the 27 million Americans suffering.”
Study co-author Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Research Center at Penn Medicine, says the technology Kahana and his team developed delivers “the right stimulation at the right time, informed by the wiring of the individual’s brain and that individual’s successful memory retrieval.”
According to him, falls and car accidents are the two leading causes of traumatic brain injury, while car accidents are on the decline due to ageing populations. Assaults and head injuries sustained while playing contact sports are the next most frequent causes.
Stimulation delivered when memory is expected to fail can improve memory
This new study expands on earlier research by Ezzyat, Kahana, and their associates. They published their research in 2017, which showed that stimulation given during times when memory is likely to fail can increase memory whereas stimulation given during times when memory is performing well deteriorates memory. In that study, the stimulation was open loop, meaning that a computer applied it regardless of how the brain was feeling.
The following year, they employed closed-loop stimulation in research with 25 epilepsy patients, monitoring brain activity in real-time and only stimulating the left lateral temporal cortex when memory performance was predicted to deteriorate. They discovered a 15% increase in the likelihood of remembering a word from a list.
The eight participants in the current trial, who were chosen from a larger group of patients seeking neurosurgical examination for epilepsy, have a history of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. Seven of the eight are men, and according to Diaz-Arrastia, males account for 80% of all traumatic brain injury hospital admissions.
Eventual real-life therapy could provide more generalized memory improvement
Kahana emphasizes the importance of addressing TBI-related memory loss, noting, “These patients are often relatively young and physically healthy, but they face decades of impaired memory and executive function.”
Prior studies had only looked at the effect of stimulation on individual words, therefore the main question for the researchers was whether stimulation could enhance memory across full lists of words when just some words were treated. Ezzyat says this development is important because “this suggests that an eventual real-life therapy could provide more generalized memory improvement — not just at the precise moment when stimulation is triggered.”
The study points out that additional research is necessary before this kind of stimulation may be used therapeutically, and scientists must investigate physiological reactions to stimulation to comprehend the neural mechanisms underlying enhanced memory function. Diaz-Arrastia says, “These are still early days in the field.”
“I think eventually what we would need,” he says, “is a self-contained, implantable system, where you could implant the electrodes into the brain of someone who had a brain injury.”
Materials provided by the University of Pennsylvania. Original written by Erica Moser. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Michael J. Kahana, Youssef Ezzyat, Paul A. Wanda, Ethan A. Solomon, Richard Adamovich-Zeitlin, Bradley C. Lega, Barbara C. Jobst, Robert E. Gross, Kan Ding, Ramon R. Diaz-Arrastia. Biomarker-guided neuromodulation aids memory in traumatic brain injury. Brain Stimulation, 2023; 16 (4): 1086 DOI: 10.1016/j.brs.2023.07.002
University of Pennsylvania. “AI-guided brain stimulation aids memory in traumatic brain injury.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/07/230718164310.htm>.
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