Boosting Memory with Zaps

Photo by Brian Friedman
Photo by Brian Friedman

Disclosure: The following excerpt is from an article written by Virginia Hughes. I noticed the video and article on the National Geographic website. While the technology is currently used on people, the technology is not widely accepted as a cure to memory problems.

Some researchers used electroshock therapy to erase memories in people. Others created false memories in mice, and even turn bad memories into good ones. Scientists have now boosted memory skills in healthy volunteers by zapping their brains with weak electromagnetic pulses.

Click here to see the video and read the complete article written by Virginia Hughes.

Click here to read another Beyond Injury post.


  1. “The patient should be informed about the treatment he will receive, and he [or she] should sign a consent form because of possible misinterpretations, false beliefs, and lack of judgement. A suicidal, depressed patient may give consent in the hope that he may die. Paranoid patients may refuse if they think that the doctor is “in league with their enemies” or “voices” tell them not to sign. Many patients sign without being able to understand what they sign. Yet, judicial decisions and medicolegal considerations request that the patient decides regarding his treatment whenever possible.

    The Task Force of the American Psychiatric Association suggests giving the patient a description of the treatment before he signs; but the authors themselves do not consider this a rigid prescription. It is our strong opinion that, in psychiatry, relatives, guardians, and in emergencies also the psychiatric team should be permitted to sign a consent if the patient’s ability to make a decision is impaired. As long as the public attitude does not allow this, a group of outside psychiatrists would still be preferable to make the decision rather than to enter into a court procedure.”

    1. John,

      I agree with you! Patients should be well-informed about all treatment options and the consequence of each option. I also agree with you the signature on a consent from does not mean the patient truly understand the treatment options or consequences. In my mind, an obviously yours too, the only thing a signature proves is the patient is smart enough to know that the doctor will do nothing without the signature.

      Perhaps, the signature means something to the courts. However, there are many people who simply will not understand what they are signing.


  2. John,

    When I clicked your comment to reply to it, your comment disappeared. As such, this reply may not include a response to each comment you made.

    You asked several questions about unauthorized shocks to the brain. However, the article was proposing a therapy that was neither an electric shock or unauthorized. The article dealt with TMS which is an alternative to shock therapy. Volunteers in the study gave their consent to participate and no shock therapy occurred as part of the study.

  3. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it is expensive even though it is covered by quite a few insurance companies. It’s now being used to successfully treat those suffering from treatment-resistant-depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It results in fewer damaging side effects including memory loss. As with depression medication, how it works is still unknown. The evidence I read is very compelling.

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