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Electrical Shocks Help the Brain Do Math

What's the Latest Development?

A team of scientists from Oxford University have shown that zapping the brain with electrical impulses improves its ability to complete mathematical problems. In an experiment, transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS), in which electrodes placed on the surface of the scalp deliver a fluctuating electrical signal to specific regions of the brain, excited the neurons of 25 individuals. "After just five consecutive sessions, each lasting about 40 minutes, the people given TRNS significantly improved their ability to do mental arithmetic. They were twice as fast at doing the actual calculations and their rate of improvement was twice that of the other group."

What's the Big Idea?

The effects of electric shocks on the brain were long-lasting. Six months after the experiment, those who had received TRNS were still able to complete mental calculations 28 percent faster than the group who received no shocks. "This non-invasive procedure could help children with learning difficulties, or be used in the rehabilitation of people after a stroke. It might even be able to help other people improve their mental athleticism. ... 'We aim to start a study with children with numerical learning difficulties,' said Cohen Kadosh, the project's lead scientist, 'and we plan to extend it to other populations.'"

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at New Scientist

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