Saturday, January 28, 2012

How to Turn Every Brain into Spock's Brain

A machine which stimulates your brain with tiny electric shocks can improve memory, problem-solving and mathematical abilities, psychologists have found.

Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh, a neuroscientist, uses a high-tech system called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to stimulate precise regions of the brain with a tiny buzz of electric current.

When he stimulates the parietal lobes, which are responsible for our skills in reading, writing and numeracy, he can boost mathematical skills...When Dr Cohen Kadosh’s subjects had their parietal lobes stimulated for 30 minutes every day for a week, they were able to pick up maths skills through conventional lessons far more quickly and effectively than they could before.

‘It’s completely safe. The electric current is one thousand times lower than anything that could cause damage,’ he says.

Tests have shown that the subjects’ maths abilities remain boosted six months after the treatment. _DailyMail

Devices which administer the electric pulses required for the treatment can be bought for as little as £500 and are portable, making them affordable and convenient to use. However, this and the fact that there are no rules governing their use, means that they are not restricted to use by professionals in labs and clinics.

... _Telegraph
Daily Mail
Of course any effective means of improving performance could give certain people an advantage over others. Those who could afford the brain-boosting technology, for example, might be thought to have an unfair advantage over those who had to wait for the price of the technology to fall, before they could gain access.

This might represent a threat to our modern leftist-egalitarian zeitgeist, where it is felt that if anyone advances, then everyone should advance in lock-step. But that is not how nature works, and it is not the way that any meaningful type of abundant future for humanity will be achieved. The sooner that self-improvement technologies escape the grip of the politically correct drone-minded politicians and academics, the better.
"This research cuts to core of humanity: the capacity to learn," says Professor Julian Savulescu. "The capacity to learn varies across people, across ages and with illness. This kind of technology enables people to get more out of the work they put into learning something."

He adds: "This is a first step down the path of maximizing human potential. It is a very exciting development but we need to control the release of the genie. Although this looks like a simple external device, it acts by affecting the brain. That could have very good effects, but unpredictable side effects."

One of the most obvious uses of brain stimulation techniques is in children as an educational or learning aid. The researchers believe that their use in children would be warranted, and that we should begin research to understand how TDCS might be used in children.

Roi notes that: "Parents will often send their child to piano lessons or to football lessons, wanting them to do well." He considers that providing people with ways of fulfilling their potential is not a bad thing. _Medicalxpress
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a technique that has been intensively investigated in the past decade as this method offers a non-invasive and safe alternative to change cortical excitability2. The effects of one session of tDCS can last for several minutes, and its effects depend on polarity of stimulation, such as that cathodal stimulation induces a decrease in cortical excitability, and anodal stimulation induces an increase in cortical excitability that may last beyond the duration of stimulation6. These effects have been explored in cognitive neuroscience and also clinically in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders – especially when applied over several consecutive sessions4. One area that has been attracting attention of neuroscientists and clinicians is the use of tDCS for modulation of pain-related neural networks3,5. Modulation of two main cortical areas in pain research has been explored: primary motor cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex7. Due to the critical role of electrode montage, in this article, we show different alternatives for electrode placement for tDCS clinical trials on pain; discussing advantages and disadvantages of each method of stimulation. _Jove



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