Maybe this is what students need (not)

From Scientific American:

So Air Force researchers were delighted recently to learn that they could cut training time in half by delivering a mild electrical current (two milliamperes of direct current for 30 minutes) to pilot’s brains during training sessions on video simulators. The current is delivered through EEG (electroencephalographic) electrodes placed on the scalp. Biomedical engineer Andy McKinley and colleagues at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright–Patterson Air Force Base, reported their finding on this so-called transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) here at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting on November 13….

They used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record magnetic fields (brain waves) produced by sensory stimulation (sound, touch and light, for example), while test subjects received TDCS. The researchers reported that TDCS gave a six-times baseline boost to the amplitude of a brain wave generated in response to stimulating a sensory nerve in the arm. The boost was not seen when mock TDCS was used, which produced a similar sensation on the scalp, but was ineffective in exciting brain tissue. The effect also persisted long after TDCS was stopped. The sensory-evoked brain wave remained 2.5 times greater than normal 50 minutes after TDCS. These results suggest that TDCS increases cerebral cortex excitability, thereby heightening arousal, increasing responses to sensory input, and accelerating information processing in cortical circuits.


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  • Kelly

    Come on, Scot. It won’t be long before information is uploaded to our brains anyway. Why read an organic chemistry textbook when it can be uploaded and you can just “know” the information in it?

    Speaking tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I’m sure someone is already working on it.

  • Unapologetic Catholic

    I wonder if it works better if you increase the voltage.

  • Rick

    Morpheus said it worked for Neo.

  • Just wait, somebody will start selling electric brain-stimulator helmets to suckers. Hang on… that’s brilliant! Tons of people would pay money for those! Okay, everybody pretend you didn’t read this. It’s all totally my idea. Mine.

  • Such experimentation raises new questions of questionable usages & long-term effects. Cocaine is a brain stimulant that is illegal. I wonder, how would electrically mimicking a pharmaceutical effect differ in results over time? If the brain can become addicted to pharmaceutical or substance induced affects, could addiction to electrically induced changes occur, too?

    I’ve noticed that some researchers seem not to realize what they’re messing with until too late.

  • Larry S

    I gotta get me one of those — zap me up !

  • Ok, but note the lack of any statement about whether it actually helped them learn anything.