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Cognitive enhancement in the future: electric brain stimulation plus cognitive training?

brainstimulationElectrical Brain Stimulation Helps People Learn Math Faster (Wired): “…scientists stimulated volunteers’ brains with mild electric current while they learned new arithmetic operations based on made-up symbols. People who received brain stimulation during training sessions on five consecutive days learned two to five times faster than those who received sham stimulation, and they retained a 30 to 40 percent performance edge six months later…The researchers applied TRNS to a different brain region thought to play a role in mathematical cognition, the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex…“If I put my sci-fi hat on, what I can imagine coming down the road is even more sophisticated combinations of stimulation and cognitive training,” said Peter Reiner, a neuroscientist and neuroethicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver… ”

Study:  Long-Term Enhancement of Brain Function and Cognition Using Cognitive Training and Brain Stimulation (Current Biology)

  • Abstract: Noninvasive brain stimulation has shown considerable promise for enhancing cognitive functions by the long-term manipulation of neuroplasticity. However, the observation of such improvements has been focused at the behavioral level, and enhancements largely restricted to the performance of basic tasks… Five consecutive days of TRNS-accompanied cognitive training enhanced the speed of both calculation- and memory-recall-based arithmetic learning…Testing 6 months after training revealed long-lasting behavioral and physiological modifications in the stimulated group relative to sham controls for trained and nontrained calculation material. These results demonstrate that, depending on the learning regime, TRNS can induce long-term enhancement of cognitive and brain functions. Such findings have significant implications for basic and translational neuroscience, highlighting TRNS as a viable approach to enhancing learning and high-level cognition by the long-term modulation of neuroplasticity.

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