Monday, November 08, 2004

Apply Current, Boost Brain Power

Sending a weak electrical impulse through the front of a person's head can boost verbal skills by as much as 20 percent, according to a new study by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

In the study, researchers at the institute asked 103 volunteers to recall as many words that begin with a particular letter as possible. The researchers then passed a 2-milliamp current -- one-tenth of what is needed to power a small LED (light-emitting diode) light -- through electrodes attached to the surfaces of the volunteers' foreheads. When the volunteers were quizzed again while the current was still on, this time with a different letter, they were able to come up with 20 percent more words on average.

"This process is so easy to miniaturize that it essentially becomes wearable," he said. "One day, a patient could be wearing it in a hat with the power source in a bucket and turning it on perhaps at critical times of day."

But don't expect to be able to buy a "thinking cap" to help your kids with their homework anytime soon. Wassermann said he and his team only plan to focus on medical applications right now.
via Wired

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