Study: audio synced to brainwaves improves memory in elderly

A new study out of Northwestern Medicine has found that playing audio synced to one's brainwaves both improves memory in the elderly and improves their deep sleep quality. The memory increase is likely due to the substantial improvements in deep sleep quality, which gets worse as a person gets older, but especially starting in middle age. The discovery could lead to non-medicine-based interventions to improve both memory and sleep quality in older adults and the elderly.

The study, which was published yesterday in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, tested the effects of acoustic stimulation sessions on volunteers aged 60 years and older. The volunteers were given a memory test the night before the session and then another one in the morning. That resulted in a 4-percent increase.

The average results after using so-called 'pink noise' stimulation was greater, with researchers observing a 3x increase. Unlike past studies involving acoustic stimulation during sleep, this latest study took an extra step and monitored the volunteers' brainwaves, matching the sound to sync with it. While further research is still needed, the early results are very promising.

Past studies have demonstrated effectiveness in younger volunteers when using acoustic stimulation at night. Whether prolonged stimulation in older adults will lead to greater sleep and memory improvements is unclear at this time, however, such a method could be a simple and side effect-free way to help the elderly stave off memory troubles.

SOURCE: EurekAlert