Navigation Links
Electrical Brain Stimulation May Boost Math Skills
Date:11/4/2010

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Those of you who are lousy at math may someday be able to boost your skills with the use of a painless method of electrical brain stimulation, British research suggests.

In a study published in the Nov. 4 online issue of Current Biology, neuroscientists at Oxford University report that adults with normal math abilities were able to improve their performance on a series of numerical tests with the help of a noninvasive technique known as transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS).

TDCS involves stimulating specific regions of the brain with low-level electrical currents to enhance or reduce the activity of neurons. Over the last decade, the procedure has shown promise at improving brain functioning in stroke victims as well as in people with Parkinson's disease. But this is the first study to show that TDCS can help healthy individuals do better on math tests.

"We were able to enhance math abilities, in a specific fashion, and with remarkable longevity," said lead author Roi Cohen Kadosh, a cognitive neuroscientist at Oxford's department of experimental psychology.

For the study, Cohen Kadosh and his colleagues studied 15 student volunteers between the ages of 20 and 21. The students were asked to learn a series of artificial numbers (symbols that they had never seen before that they were told represented numbers) while they received either a placebo stimulation or TDCS applied to the parietal lobe, a region situated at the back of the brain that is key to numerical understanding.

"As our aim is eventually to help children when they are experiencing learning difficulties with numbers, we wanted the adult subjects to learn new material [the artificial numbers] rather than test them with material that they already know," Cohen Kadosh explained.

His team tested the participants' ability to automatically process the relationship of the 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 the participants' ability to learn the new numbers, and those that improvements lasted for six months. Control tests showed that the effect was specific to the learned symbols and did not affect other cognitive functions.

One American researcher said the findings were encouraging, but a lot more study is needed.

"Like many good studies, it opens a raft of fertile questions, including 'Will this work in children?' and 'Is it safe to use in children?'" said Dr. Edwin M. Robertson, associate director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"It is certainly possible that undergoing this procedure will affect brain function in children and so cause either neurological or psychiatric problems in the future, and so good follow-up studies are required to examine this issue," said Robertson, who is also an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. "The concern is greater for children whose brains are still developing, as opposed to the adult population of volunteers who took part in the current study."

Cohen Kadosh said the next step is to test the technique on people who are among the 20 percent of the population with moderate to severe numerical disabilities, as well as on those who lose their skill with numbers as a result of stroke or degenerative disease. "Our aim is to try to find a way to enhance cognitive treatment by coupling it with noninvasive and painless brain stimulation," he said.

He acknowledged, however, that the technique may also end up being sought after by zealous parents eager to have their kids improve their math scores.

"It's just like other innovations in the past that have been misused," said Cohen Kadosh. "The experiments that we are doing have been designed to improve disabilities, but of course it can be used by others to enhance average math performance, and we don't have any control over that."

More information

There's an overview of how the brain works at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

SOURCES: Roi Cohen Kadosh, Ph.D., cognitive neuroscientist, department of experimental psychology and Oxford Center for Functional MRI of the Brain, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Edwin M. Robertson, M.D., Ph.D., associate director, Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and assistant professor, department of neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Nov. 4, 2010, Current Biology


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Neuroscientists reveal new links that regulate brain electrical activity
2. System uses electrical trickery on the brain to induce realistic spaceflight effects
3. Gadgets not related to teenagers brain pain
4. Dementia Rates Escalate as Brain Capacity Diminishes with Age
5. Researchers discover new way to kill pediatric brain tumors
6. Scientists Pinpoint Area of Brain That Fears Losing Money
7. Physical Changes in Brain Linked to Altered Spirituality
8. Pro Athletes Brains React at Olympic Speed
9. Brain Scan Shows What Beauty is Worth
10. Study supports alternative anti-seizure medication following acute brain injury
11. Exercise helps protect brain of multiple sclerosis patients
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Electrical Brain Stimulation May Boost Math Skills
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes , which specializes in ... the facility as part of a disaster drill on October 3rd. , Apple Rehab ... City Emergency Manager, as well as the Connecticut Long Term Care Mutual Aid ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... , ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids Fun Run brought out many ... event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, is aimed at getting kids ... of all ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, which is all about having ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field”: the story of a ... “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field” is the creation of published ... all ages and currently teaches a class of ladies at her church, which she ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Planet Fitness, one of ... announced today its plans to open a flagship location in Covington, LA at 401 ... Rooms To Go store next to Office Depot in the Holiday Square shopping center. ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... , ... Asante, a nationally recognized health system in southern ... home health joint venture through an agreement, effective October 1, 2017, to create ... health company with Asante, delivering clinically integrated care, for the past eight years. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... -- AVACEN Medical , Inc. (AVACEN) announced that Frost ... Product Innovation Award for Its fibromyalgia pain management device. ... device market research by Frost & Sullivan,s industry experts. ... relief product, the AVACEN 100, offers a safe and effective ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , Oct. 11, 2017  BioPharmX Corporation (NYSE MKT: ... that developed an innovative way to use nonlinear optical ... delivery of new drugs. ... Dermatology Conference will show how researchers from BioPharmX and ... Medical School used a suite of imaging techniques in ...
(Date:10/11/2017)...  Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. ("Hill-Rom") (NYSE: HRC), today provided ... Piedras, Puerto Rico , where the ... Following a comprehensive onsite ... structural damage, temporary loss of power and minimal water ... manufacturing operations have resumed, and the company expects to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: