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 ")

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1963.

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

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.