Electricity provides the spark of understanding for brain researchers

Posted on Thursday 1st May 2014

Simon HanslmayrBrain oscillations are rhythmic electrical fluctuations that affect a number of cognitive functions, including memory. But can they be used to change our behaviour? 

Dr Simon Hanslmayr and colleagues tested this question in a recent paper using rhythmic Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), a technique that produces rhythmic electrical activity in the human brain. 

They showed that stimulation in one specific frequency, known as the beta frequency (~18 Hz), reduces memory performance. 

They also found that the brain continues oscillating for about 1.5 seconds after the rTMS stopped, which shows the existence of so-called “oscillatory echoes”. 

The results could have a strong impact on the study of brain oscillations and create new ways to examine their role in everyday cognitive functions.