Applying electrical current to the brain can enhance people’s mathematical abilities, according to new research by neuroscientists at Oxford University.

In the study, 15 student volunteers aged 20 and 21 were taught symbols that represented different numerical values, and were then timed to see how quickly and accurately they could complete a series of maths puzzles based on those symbols.

Participants whose brains were being stimulated demonstrated an improved ability to perform the task.

“We’re not advising people to go around giving themselves electric shocks, but we are extremely excited by the potential of our findings and are now looking into the underlying brain changes,” said Dr Cohen Kadosh, who is leading the study.

The effects are believed to last about six months. The research could help those with moderate to severe math disability, which affects nearly 20 per cent of the population.