Enhancing brain learning capabilities

Neuroimaging and tDCS experimental setup for stimulation. EEG locations are denoted in blue, fNIRS sources (red), and detectors (green). tDCS electrodes are denoted in purple (cathodes) and yellow (anodes). C and D: Predicted electric field intensities. Credit: Jaehoon Choe et al./Front. Hum. Neurosci.

When I was a student I dreamt for the day when one would be able to learn by plugging in a book into one's head and transfer the content into the brain. Not even science fiction writer proposed that. More recently we have seen drawings of flash pen inserted into a USB port in the skull, basically walking the same path (but these were cartoons...).

I remember, though, my father recording a poem I had to learn and playing that on a tape recorder in a loop, as I was sleeping, under the assumption that it would get to my brain as I slept. Not sure it worked at all, I still remember having to study it over and over. 

As I grew, so my doubt on the effectiveness of this approach grew.

Now I read a paper  on Frontiers in Human Neuroscience written by a pool of US researchers relating an experiment of stimulating a brain with electrical signals showing an increased effectiveness in learning.

The electrical signals originated in brains of expert pilots (military and commercial aviation) and were used to stimulate brain of people training on a flight simulator.

The experiment, repeated several times, shown that those trainees stimulated with signals coming from real pilots were faster in learning, by 30%.

Interestingly, the researchers go as far as saying that in the next decade this transcranial electrical brain stimulation will become common in many learning environment resulting in faster learning. 

Not yet the flash pen and USB port solution but it is a progress. 

A few days later I stepped onto another paper reporting on results gained by another team showing increasing learning capability in mice through electrical brain stimulation...

Author - Roberto Saracco

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