Test & Measurement

Electric "Thinking Cap" Controls Learning Speed

In a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University psychologists show that it is possible to selectively manipulate our ability to learn through the application of a mild electrical current to the brain, and that this effect can be enhanced or depressed depending on the direction of the current. The researchers used a battery-powered constant current stimulator that delivered a very weak electrical current to the brain for about 20 minutes. The effects of the stimulation transferred to other tasks and lasted about five hours. The implications of the findings extend beyond the potential to improve learning. It may also have clinical benefits in the treatment of conditions like schizophrenia and ADHD, which are associated with performance-monitoring deficits.