Boosting Memory Through Brain Waves: see how it works

Have you ever wondered what happens to the information that your brain collected during the day or during the hours you are awake and what it does with it?

Regardless of whether you remember that information or lose it during sleeping hours, two types of brain waves come into vertiginous play.

It is expected that through new tools one of these waves will prevail to improve or intensify memory.

What do the researchers say?
According to the scientists who carried out the investigation, they reported that there are two types of brain waves that play a fundamental role both to remember and to forget during the first stage of sleep, referring to the state called non-REM (non-rapid eye movement).

The results
The research results were published this week in Cell. In them, scientists show the two types of brain waves interact. The first, called “slow oscillations“, which anchor the memories deep in the brain, playing an important role in the consolidation of memories.

On the other hand, the other types of brain wave that passes while we sleep, are called “delta waves” and are responsible for actively forgetting the information we process during the day.

Karunesh Ganguly, Ph.D., professor of Neurology at The University of San Francisco and author of the study, revealed that the normal state of things in the brain of the sleeping rat had that forgetful configuration. He adds: “In addition, our results suggest a model in which delta waves generally predominate, which generally increases, thus reducing pattern activity and increasing forgetfulness”.

At the same time, the idea is not to fight forever against “oblivion”. Ganguly and his team of professionals demonstrated that it is possible to manipulate the states of these brain waves during sleeping hours

Reducing the delta waves and helping to increase others, ensure that it really has a significant effect on memory.

What really affects memory?

The study showed that both brain cells, brain waves and sleep significantly affect certain memory patterns. Ganguly and his team of collaborators implanted certain devices in the brains of 12 rats, with which they managed to manipulate active brain waves during the period of sleep. 

This means that they managed to increase and decrease slow oscillations and delta waves in order to make one type prevail over another.

The investigation

Before proceeding with the manipulation of the brains of rats and brain waves, the team of professionals, as part of the process, had to teach the rats something. In this case, the rats had to drink water from a bottle of water that was on an oscillating axis. When the bottle was placed at a certain angle, the water came out and the rats could drink from the container. 

This included that the rats had to practice until finding the correct technique. 

As the rats learned to complete the task satisfactorily, the scientists recorded the blinking patterns of brain cells that were activated during this process.

This was done with the purpose of demonstrating how brain waves intervene in the concept of “ensemble reactivation“, which basically refers to the reactivation of brain cells that are used when one is found awake, but this time, being asleep, being one of the strongest theories of how memories are stored in the brain. In this case, it was shown that delta waves are interfering with that process.

Then, when slow-wave oscillations are interrupted, delta waves predominate, which causes forgetfulness. On the contrary, when delta waves are reduced, one wakes better and with more memories, protecting the memory. This would cause a significant change in people’s lifestyles.

Next step

Alternatives are being sought so that this type of treatment is not something invasive, as in the case of rats with the implantation of a device in the brain. Ganguly says that non-invasive sensory alternatives such as smells are currently being sought to increase brain stimulation and reduce delta waves.


This study shows an overview of how brain cells and waves and memory work together to decide how many memories are stored in our brains.

In the future we will probably have increased memory, something that can improve our working productivity, our study results or even, if you like to bet in apps online, memory triggers better results in gambling. This happens because you record certain patterns in your brain and it helps to increase your probabilities of winning.

There are currently projects to manipulate certain brain activities with neural implants, or Elon Musk’s Neuralink project itself. We are already living in the future.