Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Electric Brain Stimulation Quickens Learning

A new study proposes that applying a small electrical current to selected areas of the brain can increase its activity and thereby make learning easier. Prof Heidi Johansen-Berg of the University of Oxford presented their findings at the British Science Festival in Bradford.

To observe this effect, the team has devised an experiment, whereby volunteers must memorise a sequence of buttons to press "like playing a tune on a piano".

While they are doing this, they are fitted with a "trans-cranial current stimulation" device, where two rubber electrodes are places in a specific position on the head.

A very small, one milliamp current is passed between the electrodes in an arc through the brain and, depending on the direction of that current, will either increase or decrease the activity of that part of the brain.

Professor Johansen-Berg explained that "an increase in activity of the brain cells makes them more susceptible to the kinds of changes that occur during learning".

The results of the button-pressing experiments showed the positive effects of just 10 minutes of the brain stimulation on learning, compared to a very similar placebo set up.

"While the stimulation didn't improve the participant's best performance, the speed at which they reached their best was significantly increased", said Professor Johansen-Berg.

Science fiction authors have long enjoyed stimulating their readers with this same idea. In his 1938 story Easy Money, sf legend Edmond Hamilton described a control helmet that speeded up the process by which individuals formed a more coherent society.

In his 1957 novel Cities in Flight, James Blish described an accelerated schooling helmet, which he described as a "bright metal helmet which had inside it what seemed to be hundreds of tiny, extremely sharp points".

SF television shows of course couldn't resist the idea of a learning helmet. In the classic Star Trek episode Spock's Brain, Dr. McCoy gains centuries of medical knowledge in a single episode (now that's accelerated learning!).


(Alien med school is quick for Dr. McCoy)

Via BBC.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/19/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

Prototype 3D Printer Could Print Arteries In Seconds
'... in the tank the new body and the new mind and memory and life has taken almost instant form.' - Clifford Simak, 1963.

NextSense Earbuds Spy On Your Brain
'Your cephalochromoscope that cost you nine hundred dollars... colors and ceph patterns...' - Philip K. Dick, 1977.

Do Contagious Vaccines Work Better?
'...suppose we do plant an epidemic of Nine-Day Fever in Zone Red.' - Robert Heinlein, 1952.

Artificial, Implantable Kidney Prototype
'George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...' - Philip K. Dick, 1964.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

NAVER Labs Haptic Device 2.0 Robot vs. IKEA
'... the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'

Spaceships Should Last So Long
'THE SPACE VESSEL was traveling swiftly… For over five thousand years they had Voyaged on and on.’

Shine On, Portable Wind Turbine
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...'

Amazing Indoor Robotic Drones Mimic Dolphins and Whales
'They circled the vast audiences, dancing, twittering, chirping...'

Space Station Shutters
'The sun-quilt was a patchwork of colors and materials on the inward side, but silvered on the outward side...'

Tiny Mining - Extract Precious Industrial Minerals From Your Own Body
'Jim, I saw them reduce four of my doctors and nurses into those little cubes!'

MIT Proposes Space Bubbles To Combat Climate Change, Misses The Point Of Space Bubbles
'Fats Jordan was hanging in the center of the Big Glass Balloon, hugging his guitar to his massive black belly above his purple shorts..'

Tianjin Solar Vehicle From Hanergy (2022) Looking Like Heinlein's (1940)
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Study Reveals Effect Of Space Travel On The Brain
'... the brain is no longer subjected to the accustomed pull, and it expands slightly in all directions.'

Sky Cruise Nuclear Powered Flying Hotel Concept
'... the huge air-freighter Jupiter.'

The Mojo Smart Contact Lens Experience
'... the lens displays would be useless without a wearable computer to do the graphics.'

Small Town Wants 60 License Plate Readers
'the registration number which the traffic control automatically photographed as she left the controlway...'

Lightyear 0 World's First Production-Ready Solar Car
'It could maintain a steady six miles per hour...'

AI Robots Excel At Trash Sorting And Recycling
'Then they press one of these here thirteen buttons...'

Could Increased Space Rocketry Damage The Ozone Layer?
'...without burning a single hydrocarbon molecule to injure the diseased atmosphere any further.'

Dyson's Secret Household Robots
'...work a human being does around a house.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.