For decades, scientists thought that people with Alzheimer's lost their memories forever. Caregivers thought the same thing. Dementia seemed to rob the brain's ability to encode and retrieve recollections so that family members with the disease seemed to live perpetually in the present.
But this may not be the case, according to a new study. Researchers from MIT have found proof that memories stay in the brain--and with some high-tech manipulation can be retrieved so that the person remembers the past.
Using mice with symptoms of Alzheimer's, the scientists were able to stimulate cell growth and new connections in the part of the brain that stores memories with a blue light. The result: mice with dementia remembered being shocked, which they'd previously forgotten.
While it may be years before the same technology is available to humans, scientists are hopeful that similar techniques can produce the same effects. In fact, deep-brain stimulation HAS worked for some Alzheimer's patients, who now have their memories back.
And the evidence that we don't lose our ability to remember IS revolutionary. As one professor of neurology from Harvard put it, "it completely shatters how we're thinking about the disease," according to the Washington Post.