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:

The connection paradox: Why are workplaces more isolating than ever?

How poor work practices turn us all into remote workers.

  • Technology's supposed interconnectivity doesn't breed human interaction, and has instead made many workers feel less happy and less productive.
  • Using email rather than walking over to someone's desk and having face-to-face time is a major culprit. Inter-office messaging apps can also make employees feel more distant from their co-workers.
  • Can the tech companies who created this issue turn workplace isolation around, or is this the new normal?
Keep reading Show less

Study: young men obsessed with building muscles have higher mental health risks

They're at a higher risk for depression, weekend binge drinking, and unnecessary dieting.

Palestinian participants flex their muscles during a bodybuilding competition in Gaza city on October 28, 2016. / AFP / MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Body dysmorphia is not limited to women, a new study from Norway and Cambridge shows.
  • Young men that focus on building muscle are at risk for a host of mental and physical health problems.
  • Selfie culture is not helping the growing number of teens that are anxious and depressed.
Keep reading Show less

Intimacy and sexual desire in couples can be heightened by this practice

Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.

Sex & Relationships
  • Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
  • The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
  • Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Keep reading Show less