Making memories last using the peripheral effect of direct current stimulation
Elife. 2023 May 19;12:e75586. doi: 10.7554/eLife.75586.
Most memories that are formed are forgotten, while others are retained longer and are subject to memory stabilization. We show that non-invasive transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the greater occipital nerve (NITESGON) using direct current during learning elicited a long-term memory effect. However, it did not trigger an immediate effect on learning. A neurobiological model of long-term memory proposes a mechanism by which memories that are initially unstable can be strengthened through subsequent novel experiences. In a series of studies, we demonstrate NITESGON's capability to boost the retention of memories when applied shortly before, during, or shortly after the time of learning by enhancing memory consolidation via activation and communication in and between the locus coeruleus pathway and hippocampus by plausibly modulating dopaminergic input. These findings may have a significant impact for neurocognitive disorders that inhibit memory consolidation such as Alzheimer's disease.