Shocking the Brain Improves Its Function

Scientists at UCLA have found that running a mild electric current through the brain's hippocampus improves memory function. The finding could contribute to Alzheimer's research.

What's the Latest Development?

A small UCLA study has found that stimulating the brain with a mild electric current helps improve memory function. Participants in the study, who were all epilepsy patients, were asked to play a video game that uses on a complex map of an urban area (for the initiated, a variant of Crazy Taxi). By running wires into the hippocampusthe headquarters of the brain's memory networkscientists delivered light electrical shocks. Those patients who received the shocks recalled the game's map better than the control group, which received no shocks.

What's the Big Idea?

In epilepsy patients, the electric current is used to disrupt the storm of energy which causes seizures. And because the UCLA study focuses on the brain's memory regions, it could also shed light onto Alzheimer's treatments, though to talk of a cure would be premature. The major conclusion of the study is that stimulating the brain's memory center, by using electric shocks, improves human cognition on the whole, suggesting that already-functional individuals could boost their intelligence. The issues raises serious ethical dilemmas, say doctors.

Photo credit:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less

34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
Keep reading Show less

Attention is not a resource but a way of being alive to the world

Our attention is more than just a resource. It is an experience.

Personal Growth

'We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.' Those were the words of the American biologist E O Wilson at the turn of the century. Fastforward to the smartphone era, and it's easy to believe that our mental lives are now more fragmentary and scattered than ever. The 'attention economy' is a phrase that's often used to make sense of what's going on: it puts our attention as a limited resource at the centre of the informational ecosystem, with our various alerts and notifications locked in a constant battle to capture it.

Keep reading Show less