New approach to brain health is sparking memories

This fall, Robert Reinhart of Boston University published a study finding that electrical stimulation can boost memory - and Reinhart was surprised to discover the effects lasted a full month.

Cydney Scott

What if a few painless electrical zaps to your brain could help you recall names, perform better on Wordle or even ward off dementia?

This is where neuroscientists are going in efforts to stave off age-related memory loss as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Medications have shown limited effectiveness in reversing or managing loss of brain function so far. But new studies suggest that firing up an aging neural network with electrical or magnetic­ current might keep brains spry as we age.

Welcome to non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS). No surgery or anesthesia is required. One day, a jolt in the morning with your own battery-operated kit could replace your wake-up coffee.

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Eve Glicksman
Eve Glicksman is a freelance writer and editor in the Washington, DC, area following a long career in Philadelphia. She writes for the health and science section of The Washington Post along with a mix of stories for other media and associations on trends, culture, psychology, lifestyle, business and travel. Previously, she served as a managing editor for UnitedHealth Group and the Association for American Medical Colleges. To see more of her work, visit eveglicksman.com. 
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Scientists forecast new disease outbreaks

A mosquito under the microscope.

Joacim Rocklov

Two years, six million deaths and still counting, scientists are searching for answers to prevent another COVID-19-like tragedy from ever occurring again. And it’s a gargantuan task.

Our disturbed ecosystems are creating more favorable conditions for the spread of infectious disease. Global warming, deforestation, rising sea levels and flooding have contributed to a rise in mosquito-borne infections and longer tick seasons. Disease-carrying animals are in closer range to other species and humans as they migrate to escape the heat. Bats are thought to have carried the SARS-CoV-2 virus to Wuhan, either directly or through another host animal, but thousands of novel viruses are lurking within other wild creatures.

Understanding how climate change contributes to the spread of disease is critical in predicting and thwarting future calamities. But the problem is that predictive models aren’t yet where they need to be for forecasting with certainty beyond the next year, as we could for weather, for instance.

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Eve Glicksman
Eve Glicksman is a freelance writer and editor in the Washington, DC, area following a long career in Philadelphia. She writes for the health and science section of The Washington Post along with a mix of stories for other media and associations on trends, culture, psychology, lifestyle, business and travel. Previously, she served as a managing editor for UnitedHealth Group and the Association for American Medical Colleges. To see more of her work, visit eveglicksman.com. 
The Toxic Effects of Noise and What We’re Not Doing About It

Our daily soundscape is a cacophony of earsplitting jets, motorcycles, and construction sites. Engineers know how to eliminate and control noise, but other countries are ahead of the U.S. when it comes to keeping the quiet - with related health benefits.

Adobe Stock

Erica Walker had a studio in her Brookline, Mass. apartment where she worked as a bookbinder and furniture maker. That was until a family with two rowdy children moved in above her.

The kids ran amuck, disrupting her sleep and work. Ear plugs weren’t enough to blot out the commotion. Aside from anger and a sense of lost control, the noise increased her heart rate and made her stomach feel like it was dropping, she says.

That’s when Walker realized that noise is a public health problem, not merely an annoyance. She set up her own “mini study” on how the clamor was affecting her. She monitored sound levels in her apartment and sent saliva samples to a lab to measure her stress levels.

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Eve Glicksman
Eve Glicksman is a freelance writer and editor in the Washington, DC, area following a long career in Philadelphia. She writes for the health and science section of The Washington Post along with a mix of stories for other media and associations on trends, culture, psychology, lifestyle, business and travel. Previously, she served as a managing editor for UnitedHealth Group and the Association for American Medical Colleges. To see more of her work, visit eveglicksman.com.