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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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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