Electric shock improves academic performance

January 26th, 2012 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 26 (IANS) Passing small electric currents through the brain can lead to increased academic performance and boost people’s learning, a study has said.

Known as “Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation”, the method has earlier been used to treat cognitive impairment among stroke and brain injury patients and those with learning difficulties, the Telegraph reported.

Experts from the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology conducted experiments on healthy volunteers and checked how well they performed in mathematical problem solving and linguistic tasks before and after undergoing the shock treatment.

Electrodes were strapped to the head to deliver small electric currents to certain parts of the brain for short bursts up to 20 minutes.

Results showed the treatment improved the volunteers’ vision, decision-making, problem-solving, mathematical, language, memory, and attention capabilities.

The positive effects can last up to 12 months, the researchers said.

“The idea is to stimulate the brain in order to make it easier to learn new information such as maths. What we find with adults is that the improvement is not only in maths but actually in language, attention and decision making - they not only become better for a short time, but for long periods,” said Roi Cohen Kadosh, who led the research.

He, however, said it was “not a magic pill like you might find in Hollywood movies”.

“It’s not going to make you Einstein in one day. You still need to work hard, but together with that it makes an enhancement to your performance.”

The research — published in the journal Current Biology — said there were no apparent negative side effects if the the treatment is applied correctly.

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