It was about this time two years ago when a really a strange thing happened to me…
I was almost finished with my weekly Sunday trip to the grocery store.
And as I walked back to my car, full shopping cart in tow, I stopped in my tracks. I stared at my driver’s side door, which was somehow hanging wide open.
My heart started pounding. My face was hot and red with anger.
Who the hell was in my car? And who tries to steal a car in a packed parking lot—no less, in the middle of the day?
I got myself all worked up, ready to catch this brazen thief in the act. But when I got to my car, no one was there…
There was no forced entry or mess to clean up. And nothing had been stolen.
The wake-up call I wasn’t ready for
As it turns out, I’d just forgotten to close my door…
My face stayed red, but for an entirely different reason: Embarrassment.
Of course, that memory lapse didn’t turn out to be a one-time thing...
I’d often walk into another room and forget why I went in there in the first place. Other times, I’d momentarily blank on the name of someone I’ve known for a long time.
These memory lapses were very real… and very frustrating! So I decided to do something about it.
I pored over the latest research and news regarding brain health. And what I found led me to develop a simple technique I now use every day. Something I like to call “Brain Humming.” (More on that in a just a moment.)
But first, let me tell you more about this remarkable study on the memory boosting power of vibration.
Memory fades sooner than you’d think
In this trailblazing study out of Boston University, researchers studied the effects a specific vibration technique had on the working memory of a group of older adults.
Just as a reminder, your working memory is what dictates how you process, use, and remember information on a day-to-day basis.
The problem is, working memory starts to dissipate at a much earlier age than you’d expect…
One of the study’s lead researchers, Rob Reinhart, explains:
“Working memory starts to decline in our late 20s and early 30s, and certain areas of the brain gradually become disconnected and uncoordinated. By the time we reach our 60s and 70s, these neural circuits have deteriorated enough that many of us experience noticeable cognitive difficulties, even in the absence of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.”
To address this problem, Reinhart and his team set out to study how electrostimulation (non-invasive electrical currents) might affect working memory.
Seniors achieve a 20-year-old’s memory—with vibration
For the study, the researchers studied two different age groups. Group one was made up of people in their 20s, and group two consisted of participants in their 60s and 70s.
Researchers then had both groups perform two rounds of memory tasks.
After the first round, not surprisingly, the young adults scored significantly higher than the older group.
Before the second round, the older group received 25 minutes of mild brain stimulation from electrical vibrations.
Lead researcher Rob Reinhart with the electrostimulation device
IMAGE SOURCE: Boston University
After the second series of memory tasks, the researchers were blown away…
Essentially, the older study participants demonstrated such a marked improvement in their memory performance that their results were indistinguishable from the group of 20-year-olds.
Plus, this memory boost lasted for the entire 50-minute observation period following the brain treatments.
Vibration ‘clears the path’ to better memory
The researchers theorize that the electrostimulation reestablishes the same brain pathways that tend to get a little “rusty” as people age. Essentially, this mild vibrational stimulation improves memory recall by restoring the flow of information within the brain.
Think of these brain vibrations as if someone’s walking through the woods and clearing away overgrown brush from the trails.
Following the trial Reinhart concluded, “Now, [people are] performing tasks differently, they’re remembering things better, they’re perceiving better, they’re learning faster. It is really extraordinary.”
He believes there’s great potential for a variety of future applications for vibration-based medicine.
“It’s opening up a whole new avenue of potential research and treatment options,” he says, “and we’re super excited about it.”
As for the next steps, the researchers plan on studying this treatment on individual brain cells and how repeated doses of electrostimulation might further support, improve, and protect brain health. (I’ll keep you posted as this exciting research progresses. Stay tuned!)
Boost your own memory with your body’s ‘built-in’ abilities
Over the past few years, I’ve sharpened my memory and improved my ability to retain knowledge with simple, daily exercises. (And I’m happy to report that I’ve yet to leave my car door wide open for a second time!)
And now, thanks to my daily Brain Humming exercises, I never need to rely on notes or on-screen prompts. I also do these exercises before my concerts where I need to remember three hours of song lyrics and guitar chords.
Similar to the vibrations produced by the electrostimulation in the study, Brain Humming also produces vibrations. But instead of being generated by electrical currents, they’re created by self-created sound… from your very own voice!
These vibrations travel through your body to stimulate your vagus nerve. (The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body, spanning from the bottom of your brain stem down to your abdomen).
This type of vagus nerve stimulation can benefit not only the brain, but whole-body health.
My favorite technique to power up my brain
If you’d like to harness the power of sound vibration to boost your memory, here are a few tips from my personal “Pre-event Regimen”:
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Benson, K. (2019). As Memories Fade, Can We Supercharge Them Back to Life? Boston University’s The Brink. Retrieved from: bu.edu/articles/2019/
Reinhart, R. (2019). Working memory revived in older adults by synchronizing rhythmic brain circuits. Nature Neuroscience. 22: pp. 820-827. Retrieved from: nature.com/articles/s41593-
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