This Deep Brain ‘Zap’ Could Restore Memories for Alzheimer’s Patients

New research shows that electrical stimulation could restore memories in Alzheimer's patients one day. Learn how and find local resources for current caretakers.

An MRI image of a brain

Imagine a deep “brain zap” that could bring back certain memories to those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It may sound far-fetched, but experts say it could be possible one day.

New research from the University of Florida found that electrical stimulation aimed at key areas of the brain created “intense flashbacks” in some Alzheimer’s patients, HealthDay reports.

The article explains that some patients in the clinical trial recalled distinct emotions, smells, tastes and temperatures – including one patient who suddenly remembered “an entire experience of being inebriated while drinking a margarita at a resort in Aruba.”

Of the 42 Alzheimer’s patients involved in the study, about half experienced flashbacks from previous decades, the report notes.

Unfortunately, researchers pointed out, the deep brain stimulation did not lead to “overall improvement” in patients’ thinking, reasoning skills or memory – though a second phase of the study is in progress.

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“It’s very unclear what the clinical significance is of these memory recollections, but they at least help us with understanding how memory forms and which portions of the brain seem to be related to retrieving and forming memories,” lead researcher Dr. Wissam Deeb explained in the HealthDay article.

Resources to consider

While news about clinical trials can offer hope for the future, those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can face a variety of day-to-day challenges.

The National Institute on Aging offers a wide range of resources for caregivers – from everyday care to legal and financial issues – on its website.

People in the metro Detroit area can also find local support from the following resources and groups. Find more ideas on where to get caregiver support here.

1. Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Great Lakes Chapter

This chapter serves 23 counties and has a local office in Ann Arbor. It offers education, caregiver support and other resources for those facing Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones.

2. Beaumont Caregivers Support Group

This free support group meets at Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills. It helps to ease the difficulty of caring for individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other memory conditions.

3. SarahCare – Lakeside Alzheimer’s Support Groups

The second Thursday of each month, caregivers of people who have Alzheimer’s gather in Sterling Heights to talk about their experiences and get information from experts.

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