SOURCE: Mind Research Network

Mind Research Network

April 03, 2012 12:07 ET

Electrical Shocks to Brain Accelerate Learning

ALBUQUERQUE, NM--(Marketwire - Apr 3, 2012) - Scientists at the Mind Research Network (MRN) in Albuquerque, NM have demonstrated that Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) enhances learning when applied to the inferior frontal and temporal cortices. TDCS is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation applied via a weak electrical current passed between electrodes on the scalp. Recently published in professional journals Nature, Scientific American and Experimental Brain Research, TDCS facilitated training is being developed in partnership with the Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force to improve the complex skills necessary for operation of remotely piloted aircraft.

The study by Michael Weisend, Ph.D., examined the effects of TDCS delivered at the beginning of training (novice) or after an hour of training (experienced) on participants' ability to detect cues indicative of covert threats. Accuracy in classification of images containing and not containing threat stimuli during the testing sessions indicated: (1) mastery of threat detection significantly increased with training, (2) anodal TDCS significantly enhanced learning, and (3) TDCS was significantly more effective in enhancing test performance when applied in novice learners than in experienced learners.

Weisend and his fellow scientists believe TDCS might be more effective in training new recruits than in improving an existing skill set.

MRN researchers also developed novel electrode technology that increases the safety and comfort of subjects. They recorded magnetoencephalography (MEG) during brain stimulation with TDCS to document the enhanced responses to stimuli. Brain response to activation of a sensory nerve in the arm was significantly larger with TDCS compared to a mock TDCS control condition. The sensory-evoked brain wave remained 2.5 times greater than normal 30 minutes after TDCS. Results suggest that TDCS increases cerebral cortex excitability, thereby increasing responses to sensory input and accelerating memory formation.

About The Mind Research Network (MRN) The Mind Research Network (MRN) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and brain injury. Headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, MRN consists of an interdisciplinary association of scientists located at universities, national laboratories and research centers around the world and is focused on imaging technology and its emergence as an integral element of neuroscience investigation. It is an affiliate with Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute,

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