Evidence for verbal memory enhancement with electrical brain stimulation in the lateral temporal cortex

Michal T. Kucewicz, Brent M. Berry, Laura R. Miller, Fatemeh Khadjevand, Youssef Ezzyat, Joel M. Stein, Vaclav Kremen, Benjamin H. Brinkmann, Paul Wanda, Michael R. Sperling, Richard Gorniak, Kathryn A. Davis, Barbara C. Jobst, Robert E. Gross, Bradley Lega, Jamie Van Gompel, S. Matt Stead, Daniel S. Rizzuto, Michael J. Kahana, Gregory A. Worrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Direct electrical stimulation of the human brain can elicit sensory and motor perceptions as well as recall of memories. Stimulating higher order association areas of the lateral temporal cortex in particular was reported to activate visual and auditory memory representations of past experiences (Penfield and Perot, 1963). We hypothesized that this effect could be used to modulate memory processing. Recent attempts at memory enhancement in the human brain have been focused on the hippocampus and other mesial temporal lobe structures, with a few reports of memory improvement in small studies of individual brain regions. Here, we investigated the effect of stimulation in four brain regions known to support declarative memory: hippocampus, parahippocampal neocortex, prefrontal cortex and temporal cortex. Intracranial electrode recordings with stimulation were used to assess verbal memory performance in a group of 22 patients (nine males). We show enhanced performance with electrical stimulation in the lateral temporal cortex (paired t-test, P = 0.0067), but not in the other brain regions tested. This selective enhancement was observed both on the group level, and for two of the four individual subjects stimulated in the temporal cortex. This study shows that electrical stimulation in specific brain areas can enhance verbal memory performance in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-978
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • BRAIN initiative
  • Brain-machine interface
  • Direct brain stimulation
  • Electrocorticography
  • Gamma oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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