Brain Meeting Presentation by HRL Shows Promise for Transcranial Stimulation During Sleep

HRL Laboratories, LLC, was represented at the 3rd Annual Brain Initiative Investigators meeting by Dr. Praveen Pilly, who presented Improving Memory Performance by Augmenting Consolidation with Transcranial Stimulation in the plenary session on “Applications of BRAIN Technologies”. Held on December 12-14, 2016, the conference was sponsored by the NIH institutes and centers participating in the White House BRAIN Initiative and the National Science Foundation, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In this research sponsored by DARPA under the RAM Replay program, a multipronged approach was tested for accelerating skill acquisition, learning, and memory consolidation through transcranial electrical stimulation during learning and sleep. The innovative technology involves applying high-density spatiotemporal amplitude-modulated patterns (STAMPs) of transcranial currents—rather than focusing on specific areas in the brain—during learning events. Memories are “tagged” during this process and the STAMPs are reapplied during slow-wave sleep in closed loop to promote consolidation of specific memories or skills of interest. This is done alongside closed-loop slow transcranial alternating current stimulation to augment slow-wave oscillations, which enhances the effect.

The team has also been focusing on understanding neurophysiological mechanisms underlying enhancement of sleep consolidation with noninvasive brain stimulation. Current collaborations with the University of New Mexico studying healthy human participants show this viable technology improves spatial memory recall and the ability to detect objects hidden in complex images. It also enhances learning of specific event sequences presented in immersive virtual environments after the intervention during learning and sleep.

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HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California ( is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

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