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 ")

The Autonomous Robotic Urethral Catheter - Would You Use It?
'It'll snake its way in on its own.'

OrganEx Revives The Organs In Dead Pig
'Wakened into half-life activity one hour a month...' - Philip K. Dick, 1969.

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.

 

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

'Courier Commons' By Tomorrow Lab, From Karl Schroeder (and Bruce Sterling?)
'The pokkecon rang again. *The coffee’s for him?* Tsuyoshi said.'

Terrifying Robotic Apple Harvester
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant.'

Jetson-Style Clockwork Robot Nail Salon Coming To Target Near You
The Jetsons imagined so much future.

Mechanical Horse Sculpture Gallops In Place
'Rod placed the brain inside the panel... the horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'

'Make Sunsets' Tweaks Climate By Atmospheric Alteration
'Pina2bo would have to operate full blast for many years to put as much SO2 into the stratosphere as its namesake had done in a few minutes.'

Eviation Alice Electric Plane First Flight
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'

Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup
'Chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Changesite Mineral To Be Mined On Moon By China
'But then... not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon.'

Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.'

Is It Better To Be Short?
'He was one of the smaller, energy-saving new breed...'

Taikonaut Tai Chi Foot Loops
'Jimmy Cardigan and Harlowe, staring through the darkside port, had their feet in the foot-loops...'

Space Billboards Would Ruin Our View Of The Cosmos
'But the rising sign, as it had been designed to do, held his eyes. A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-M’Lou in and out of the atmosphere...'

MarsCat and MetaCat, Your Robot Cat Companions
'It was you who betrayed me — you and your robot cat.'

Mars Mission Using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
'with its atomic engine as noiseless as a dancing sunbeam...'

Physiotherapists Get Help From Robots
'Most of the Members went into cold-rest; the others tended them...'

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.