Scientists playing around with electricity have worked out the shocking truth about being really clever.
According to the journal Current Biology which we get for the “Spot the Watt” competition, if you apply electrical current to the brain you can enhance a person’s mathematical performance for up to six months.
The finding might help the 20 percent of the population which has moderate to severe numerical disabilities and for those who lose their skill with numbers as a result of stroke or degenerative disease, according to the researchers.
Top Oxford scientist Roi Cohen Kadosh said he was not suggesting that people should go and plug themselves into the mains, but he was “extremely excited by the potential of our findings.”
He said that electrical stimulation will most likely not turn you into Albert Einstein, but if the project is developed successful, it might be able to help some people to cope better with maths.
What he used was a method of brain stimulation known as transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS). This uses a weak current applied to the brain constantly over time to enhance or reduce the activity of neurons.
Kadosh’s team of boffins applied TDCS to the parietal lobe which his the part of the brain used for numerical understanding.
Participants had normal mathematical abilities but were asked to learn a series of artificial numbers that they had never seen before that they were told represented numbers while they received the non-invasive brain stimulation.
The researchers then tested participants’ ability to automatically process the relationship of those artificial numbers to one another and to map them correctly in space using standard testing methods for numerical competence.
The results of the tests showed that the brain stimulation improved study participants’ ability to learn the new numbers. and that those improvements lasted 6 months post training.
Kadosh said that people with severe numerical disabilities often cannot manage basic tasks like understanding food labels or counting change in a supermarket. We guess all they will need is a power socket and a fork. Sheesh, it didn’t work for me when I was a toddler, plugged myself into the mains and I’m still pants at maths.