Overclocking the Brain's Math Skills With Electricity

Electroshock therapy is definitely not something most people want, but a little zap might help you with your SAT scores, according to a new study. The study, done by esearchers at Britain's Oxford University, showed that treatment with a low electric current could enhance math score, up to as much as six months.

In the study, 15 student volunteers aged 20 and 21 were taught symbols that represented different numerical values. They were then timed to see how quickly and accurately they could complete a series of maths puzzles using on those symbols.

The study took place over a six-day period. Volunteers were either given a placebo or a one milliamp electrical stimulus across the parietal lobe from right to left, or left to right. The stimulus was administered for about 20 minutes, using a non-invasive technique known as transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS).

Researchers said that those who received the stimulus from right to left did best in testing. Better still, retesting six months later showed the improvement was still there.

 It's unclear what happened to those who were stimulated from left to right, but the report didn't indicate that unlike a cartoon or some sort of comedy show, the reverse direction had the opposite effect and turned them into math idiots.

The next study the researchers wish to do is to take underachievers in math, and try the same sort of stimulation. Oxford's Cohen Kadosh, led the study. He said,
"We're not advising people to go around giving themselves electric shocks, but we are extremely excited by the potential of our findings and are now looking into the underlying brain changes. Electrical stimulation is unlikely to turn you into the next Einstein, but if we're lucky it might ... help some people to cope better with maths."
You can watch a BBC report on the study, below: