Electric current to the brain improves maths ability

Researcher’s from Oxford University’s Experimental Psychology department have discovered that small electric pulses to the brain can improve memory, learning and mathematic ability.

The researchers, led by Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh, applied small electric currents to volunteers for just 20 minutes for 5 days. They found that after receiving the treatment, volunteer’s  vision, memory, decision-making, problem-solving, language and focusing skills were all improved, with the effects lasting for up to six months.

Dr Cohen Kadosh, who has been working on brain stimulation for the last 7 years, explained how the experiment works: ‘We place two electrodes on regions that we know are involved in maths processing. It is not a shock, it is a very subtle electrical current, which many do not even feel.

 ‘The brain is working on electricity, and I wanted to examine if changing the responsiveness of the brain by applying electricity to it in brain regions that are critical for maths could improve its function.

‘It seems that the brain works more efficiently when it is stimulated than when it is not, as evaluated by tools that assess blood oxygenation. But we still need to know the exact mechanisms’

He pointed out that the current research is not a treatment but an experiment. However he hoped the work could apply in real life situations. ‘If it will appear to be safe and successful, it could be used in different settings (e.g., tutorials for those with learning difficulties), until then I would not advice using this at home.’