Human memory systems are imperfect recording devices that are affected by age and disease, but recent findings suggest that the performance of these systems may be modifiable through interventions using non-invasive brain stimulation such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). The translational potential of these rTMS interventions is clear: memory problems are the most common cognitive complaint associated with healthy aging, while pathological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease are often associated with severe deficits in memory. Therapies to improve memory or treat memory loss could enhance independence while reducing costs for public health systems. Despite this promise, several important factors limit the generalizability and translational potential of rTMS interventions for memory. Heterogeneity of protocol design, rTMS parameters, and outcome measures present significant challenges to interpretation and reproducibility. However, recent advances in cognitive neuroscience, including rTMS approaches in addition to a new understanding of functional brain networks and related insights, may offer methodological tools necessary to design new interventional studies with enhanced experimental rigor, improved reproducibility, and greater likelihood of successful translation to clinical settings. In this review, we first discuss the current state of the literature on memory modulation with rTMS, then offer a commentary on developments in cognitive neuroscience that are relevant to rTMS interventions, and finally close by offering several recommendations for the design of future investigations using rTMS to modulate human memory performance.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain networks
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Non-invasive brain stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas