Let's Shape Learning Into Lasting Memories

Neuroscience insights

Neurosci Insights. 2024 Feb 9;19:26331055241227220. doi: 10.1177/26331055241227220. eCollection 2024.


Recent experiments in rats and humans have indicated that the effects of non-invasive electrical stimulation are primarily due to transcutaneous stimulation of peripheral nerves, specifically the greater occipital nerve. This stimulation pathway activates communication gateways from the periphery to the brain, impacting memory consolidation. In this invited commentary, I delve into and offer additional insights concerning the enhancement of episodic memory through transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the greater occipital nerve, building upon the findings published by my laboratory in both Science Advances and Elife. Our research on non-invasive transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the greater occipital nerve (NITESGON) has shown to enhance episodic memory consolidation and promote communication between the locus coeruleus (LC) pathway and the hippocampus based on resting connectivity functional MRI. The LC, primarily responsible for releasing noradrenaline and dopamine, plays a crucial role in post-encoding memory stabilization. This suggests that NITESGON can improve memory but does not affect immediate learning. The concept of behavioural tagging, where weak memories can be stabilized through strong or novel events, and how NITESGON activates a memory consolidation through this mechanism are discussed. The role of NITESGON in enhancing memory stabilization is highlighted, providing a non-pharmaceutical solution with minimal side effects. The potential application of NITESGON in neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, is also discussed, emphasizing its promising therapeutic prospects.

PMID:38343791 | PMC:PMC10858668 | DOI:10.1177/26331055241227220