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Scientists Overclock People's Brains

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the time-to-install-some-extra-fans dept.

Math 314

arshadk writes with this excerpt from the BBC about researchers at Oxford University who found that inducing a small current in a subject's parietal lobe boosted their capacity for numerical learning: "The current could not be felt, and had no measurable effect on other brain functions. As it was turned on, the volunteers tried to learn a puzzle which involved substituting numbers for symbols. Those given the current from right to left across the parietal lobe did significantly better when given, compared to those who were given no electrical stimulation. The direction of the current was important — those given stimulation running in the opposite direction, left to right, did markedly worse at these puzzles than those given no current, with their ability matching that of an average six-year-old. The effects were not short-lived, either. When the volunteers whose performance improved was re-tested six months later, the benefits appear to have persisted. There was no wider effect on general maths ability in either group, just on the ability to complete the puzzles learned as the current was applied."

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sweet !! (5, Funny)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136608)

K... I just cut the cord off a lamp... somerone talk me through this O.O

Re:sweet !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136666)

luckly this is not pop news, or is it? (prays this makes it to the major news companies)

Re:sweet !! (5, Informative)

lazarus corporation (701348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137240)

From the first sentence of the summary at the top of the page:

arshadk writes with this excerpt from the BBC about researchers at Oxford University who found that...

As an Englishman I may be biased, but I think the BBC counts as a major news company.

Re:sweet !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136676)

It sounds like you need DC, not AC. You need an inductor....

Re:sweet !! (2, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136762)

Working with AC may be problematic... Are you comfortable only learning something for 1/120th of a second at a time?

Re:sweet !! (5, Funny)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136814)

hmmm... maybe I should just suck on a 9 volt battery while I am studying :/

Re:sweet !! (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136972)

Luckily for you there is two flavors available: Duracell and Energizer!

Re:sweet !! (2, Informative)

JonahsDad (1332091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137138)

Was at Oxford, so wouldn't it be 1/100th of a second at a time?

Re:sweet !! (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137108)

K... I just cut the cord off a lamp... somerone talk me through this O.O

You don't need a power cord, just a bucket of caffeine.

Coffee, overclocking brains for 1,000 years.

Re:sweet !! (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137156)

Too bad coffee taste like cat piss,

Re:sweet !! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137184)

No, you're thinking of tea.

Re:sweet !! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137272)

How do you know what cat piss tastes like?

Re:sweet !! (3, Funny)

Naerymdan (870497) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137312)

Ever drank cofee?

Re:sweet !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137286)

And I assume you've personally tasted cat piss to verify this?

Re:sweet !! (1)

SilentSheep (705509) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137296)

How do you know?

Re:sweet !! (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137322)

Too bad coffee taste like cat piss,

I find it interesting that cat piss is a taste you can reference.

Re:sweet !! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137172)

True. The problem is that caffeine also over-clocks mouths.

Re:sweet !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137232)

K... I just cut the cord off a lamp... somerone talk me through this O.O

lol

Uhhhh.... WHAT? (5, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136624)

those given stimulation running in the opposite direction, left to right, did markedly worse at these puzzles than those given no current, with their ability matching that of an average six-year-old ... The effects were not short-lived, either. When the volunteers whose performance improved was re-tested six months later, the benefits appear to have persisted.

What about the other sides, were the negative effects persistant? Did you just create a group of idiots? Is this legal?

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136686)

Good question, but we mustn't assume that reversing the direction was a persistent underclock. Brain plasticity isn't linear. Regardless, I would like to know.

Oldnews (5, Informative)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137114)

This phenomena is quite well studied, and seems to be producing relatively linear effects. It was discovered in the 70's or so. It's refered to as transcranial direct current stimulation and just a few months ago there was a study on visual memory about the same.
It's not really new and revolutionary, it's just that the previous studies haven't been able to be worded as "OMG BRAINOVERKLOCKING!" and thus haven't generated the same interest.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/08/direct-current-stimulation-more-than.html [nextbigfuture.com]

Re:Oldnews (3, Insightful)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137162)

I know it is well studied, I'm a neuroscientist. What I am saying is that we must not assume that the effects over time are the exact opposite in each direction.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136712)

The effect seemed to influence the learning process... IE when the current is applied in the correct direction the learning process takes place very quickly and when in the opposite direction it takes place very slowly. The subjects retested later showed they retained the learned skill, not the *ability* to learn that was afforded by the electrical stimulation.

Of course, lacking any such mental enhancement my interpretation of this may be totally wrong.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

transfatfree (1920462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137034)

combine this with milgram experiment teaching style!

zapped if you learn, Zapped if you don't!

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136784)

Did you just create a group of idiots? Is this legal?

It is probably not legal. The public school system hates the competition.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (0)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136810)

my guess is that the effect of the current is to temporarily increase/decrease the rate at which the brain learns, i.e. plasticity. if this is true, then there would be no negative effects to the other group. notice that they say the lasting positive effects were only specifically for the kind of puzzle they learned during the experiment, which suggests that they were quite simply learning better/faster while the current was being applied.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136904)

Right... but I don't see your point... I know it didn't make them incredibly stupid drooling zombies or anything like that - but their ability to learn was affected? What if they started a new job soon - wouldn't it be nice to be the quick learner you have been throughout all your life and not have been screwed over by a scientific test?

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137036)

well, what i meant was that my guess is that their rate of learning was only affected while the current was on, in which case there would be no effect on their ability to learn a new job, etc. but that's only a guess, i didn't read the article in detail, and i don't know if their experiments address this question or not.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137074)

The summary says that the positive effects from the current retained for 6 months. They didn't mention whether the negative ones did or not. Possibly just left that part out...

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (2, Informative)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137250)

I seriously doubt peer reviewers would have let them get away with not reporting persisting performance drops.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137332)

again, the positive effects refer to performance on a specific task, not rate of learning a new task. a persistent change in the latter would be truly groundbreaking news, but it doesn't seem to me that they have any such results (positive or negative).

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137078)

1. They probably waived liability to be in the test to begin with.

2. It sounds like the alteration in learning ability is temporary, but the ability to recall what was learned in that time is lasting.

3. How long before we have "electrify your learning" helmets, or does this process require opening the skull?

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137086)

Their learning capabalities weren't changed. It was temporary. They learned faster WHILE the current was applied, and what they had learned has not been forgotten. Same thing the other way round, they learned slower WHILE the current was applied.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137222)

Their ability to learn was affected while current was applied. Test subjects with one current flow learned faster than test subjects with the opposite current flow. The material learned - how to solve that specific puzzle - persisted after the test. Their ability to learn was unaffected except specifically for the duration of the test.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (2, Funny)

heatseeker_around (1246024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136840)

I was about to ask the same question. This is a huge side effect. "Don't worry, it will not affect any other parts of your brain. You will just be a retard and unable to resolve simple puzzles for at least... we don't know yet. You'll tell us !"

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137044)

The english-speaking participants then replied "Wakarimasen"?

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136842)

I'm pretty sure they would have just reversed the polarity on the deflector array...

But seriously, i would like to know this as well.
And will the negative effects be reversed if they run it in the opposite direction.

Also, where does one go to sign up for this? I totally want to become super-genius electroborg 3000.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (2, Funny)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136946)

well, is it legal for stupid, ignorant people to have kids?

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137334)

well, is it legal for stupid, ignorant people to have kids?

Of course it is. Look how they mopped up in the elections.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137014)

You should have quoted the next sentence, too:

There was no wider effect on general maths ability in either group, just on the ability to complete the puzzles learned as the current was applied

i.e. nobody was made dumber (or smarter), it only influenced the learning process while the current was active.

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (-1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137302)

Which is still a negative effect - destroying someone's ability to learn is just as harmful as taking away their intelligence.

Perhaps even more so (with the whole give a man a fish idea)

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

kainino (1042936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137066)

Did you just create a group of lawyers? Is this legal?

FTFY. And yes, that is "legal." *brickdodge*

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (1)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137174)

What about the other sides, were the negative effects persistant? Did you just create a group of idiots? Is this legal?

The sense I got from the articles, as well as the last sentence of the posting blurb, is that the increased or decreased function was with regard to the particular problem(s) that they were attempting to solve while the current was being applied, not to their general capacity to solve math problems.

It does lead me to wonder, though, how quickly we'll see some entrepreneur out for a quick buck to turn out a "thinking cap" that has the electronics to provide the proper stimulation to the parietal area and market it as a cramming tool for students having problems with math...

Re:Uhhhh.... WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137300)

Ive was in da tested an I'd feelled jus phine!

Stupid is as stupid does.. (2, Funny)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137310)

Did you just create a group of idiots?

pretty sure that people who offered to let scientists run current through their brains as part of a test to see how it affects learning aren't Nobel prize winners to begin with....

Er... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136636)

So a third of the group who had current applied left to right had their brains underclocked for 6 months? And they were OK with that?

So basically... (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136654)

So basically we're FPGAs?

Overclocking? (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136664)

But I have accidentally OC'ed my PC and gotten a BSOD. What happens to humans when you do that?

Re:Overclocking? (2, Insightful)

javelin682 (793007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136726)

you don't get the BSO part, you just get D

Re:Overclocking? (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136960)

Some say you see a white light, probably high intensity LED arrays... you could say it's the WLOD. Sorry, I'm too excited about the possibilities of three 9v batteries, some copper leads to a skin-patch connector, and my sweet, sweet new high score on Puyo Pop! I'll be getting 10 simultaneous Puyos fo sho!!1! Or, a badly burnt section of hairless skin on the back of my head... :( Wait, was it negative lead on the left, or right hemisphere?

Re:Overclocking? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137060)

I've heard that some get the WLOD.

Re:Overclocking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136778)

Brain Seizure Of Death

Re:Overclocking? (2, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136804)

You get a Blue Scream of Death.

Re:Overclocking? (1)

cforciea (1926392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136806)

You still get BSOD, only now it stands for Blue Skin of Death when the jolt stops your breathing.

Re:Overclocking? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137112)

To hell with (blue) people! - Unless they're suffocating - then help'em. - Mitch Hedberg

Re:Overclocking? (1)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136952)

But I have accidentally OC'ed my PC and gotten a BSOD. What happens to humans when you do that?

You start agreeing with Rush Limbaugh / Shawn Hannity / Al Gore / Bill Maher. (Take your pick, according to your personal preference, and whom you wish to demonize...)

Re:Overclocking? (0, Troll)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137028)

You become a woman.

Re:Overclocking? (1)

JonahsDad (1332091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137104)

Obligatory Snow Crash link [nealstephenson.com] .

Re:Overclocking? (1)

kammat (114899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137192)

You get one heck of a core dump. Hope you have clean underwear handy.

Ridiculous (1, Insightful)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136682)

Just because you know how to turn a computer on doesn't mean you should go messing around with registry keys or your CMOS. Let's curb our enthusiasm for our tiny understanding of how the brain works and learn more before we start screwing around with things.

Re:Ridiculous (2, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136756)

Oblg: You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

Re:Ridiculous (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136846)

Debunked!

http://www.popeilfamilystore.com/egg.html [popeilfamilystore.com]

Re:Ridiculous (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137170)

yes but do your really want to crack open your own skull just so I can have a faster train of thought?

Re:Ridiculous (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136892)

as UnknownSoldier so laconically explained, it's quite difficult to learn about the brain without screwing around with it. probably by far the largest source of information for cognitive/neuropsychology are people with damaged brains, either due to injury, disease, congenital defect, etc. but those come along pretty rarely. hence developing [safe!] methods of [temporarily!] affecting brain function in healthy subjects is extremely important for the continued development of these fields.

regarding the article, these are very interesting and exciting results. looking forward to further developments/confirmation/explanations.

Ridiculously Brilliant (4, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137062)

Well, these people are learning more about the brain BY screwing around with it. How else do you learn things? Unfortunately, we're missing the user's manual.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137120)

And how, pray tell, do we learn more without screwing around in the first place?

My old boss used to do this too...no biggie. (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136690)

Back when I worked as a mechanic, the guy that owned the place and a buddy of his used to bring cars into the shop after hours, snort up a line of blow, and go to town. I once watched them pull a motor out of a Honda Civic in 15 minutes, surgeon style (one guy giving and taking tools/nuts/bolts, one guy using the tools to remove said nuts/bolts).

No exaggeration. 15 minutes. It transcended bitchin'.

Re:My old boss used to do this too...no biggie. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136936)

15 minutes for a Honda Civic? What is so hard about cutting a couple of zip-ties?

Re:My old boss used to do this too...no biggie. (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137188)

Oh C'mon! Mod parent up! That was FUNNY!

Re:My old boss used to do this too...no biggie. (2, Funny)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137100)

I'm sorry, could you give that to me as a car analogy?
er...

Re:My old boss used to do this too...no biggie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137124)

With how much of the wiring harness still attached? :D

you can do this with drugs too (1, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136694)

but in the end, you overtax the neurons, burn them out, killing them, lower their potential, etc

take care of your body, you're only given one, you can't improve upon the performance of your brain and your body without longterm tradeoffs that are larger than any benefit you receive in the short term

stop trying to improve on what you have. just use it, and take care of it

"a candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned very brightly..." -bladerunner

Re:you can do this with drugs too (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136900)

"stop trying to improve on what you have. just use it, and take care of it" ??? Are you serious?

I am really glad that nature, science, business, art, linguistics, etc. -- generally disagrees with your harmful advice. Thankfully, we have selfish genes. And these genes take risks. Because risk-taking is the natural path to growth, learning, innovation, etc.

Life is not an exercise in conservation! Human nature seeks constant improvement. Humans are risk takers, thankfully. You only have one life to live, so don't squander it by being safe.

Re:you can do this with drugs too (4, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136912)

Which drugs? Plenty of drugs taken in moderation can be sustained throughout a natural lifespan without damage. Very few drugs, especially those used longer than the last few generations, "burn out neurons" or cause any neuropathy of any kind, at active doses that aren't toxic. Alcohol is an exception. But heroin is not. All drugs temporarily "lower the potential" of neurons or raise them: otherwise they'd have no effect whatsoever. But so does eating too much food (or not enough), or habitual running, or having sex.

Blanket statements about drugs are rarely meaningful enough to take as useful advice.

Re:you can do this with drugs too (5, Insightful)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136968)

you can't improve upon the performance of your brain and your body without longterm tradeoffs

i hate that kind of defeatist, "nature/god knows best" attitude. everything you have right now is thanks to people who believed they could do better than nature, and they did. yes, you shouldn't do lines of coke to be better at your job, because that is a hack. it doesn't mean we can't make ourselves truly better, without "overclocking" and burning out. a candle that burns twice as bright could burn out twice as fast, or it could simply be a fucking light bulb that lasts 5 years.

Re:you can do this with drugs too (2, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137164)

yes, you shouldn't do lines of coke to be better at your job

Except, of course, for those rare individuals for whom doing coke is a part of their job. Used car salesmen, comedians, politicians, that sort of thing.

Re:you can do this with drugs too (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137314)

The military regularly issues CNS stimulants to serving personnel, especially pilots.

Re:you can do this with drugs too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137330)

doctors, engineers, advertisers ...

Re:you can do this with drugs too (1)

Irick (1842362) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136986)

My LED lamp shines at 7,527 lumens and lasts over 30,000 hours. Your twin-wicked candle is clearly inferior.

Re:you can do this with drugs too (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137244)

That's about 10 60 watt bulbs. What the heck are you using? I want one?

I got the new 40watt LED ($24 at home depot) and it ROCKS. Unfortunately the 60 watt by the same mfg weighs 2 pounds (I'm not joking- it may be over 2 pounds) and is much bigger). My "hydra neck" fixture immediately sags to the ground with that bulb in place.

I think LED is "close" except for price. But given the life span and current draw, it's awesome for difficult to change fixtures or lights you want to leave on all the time (like the porch light).

Obligatory Faces of Meth photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34137038)

Yep. You certainly can "overclock" your brain (and body too) with drugs. But you definitely shouldn't.

Have a look at the results. [methtaskforce.org]

LASIK, high blood pressure, gene therapy... (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137246)

Crud, then, because I and a LOT of my friends have had LASIK surgery to correct my vision. It turns out god gave me bum eyes that focused everything slightly in front of my retina, and that fixed it pretty well with minimal, if any, long-term trade-off.

My dad had high blood pressure. In spite of efforts to control it through diet and exercise, he foolishly took drugs to control it, thinking that he could improve upon his natural system to regulate it. He died a few years ago of bladder cancer. I'm not sure how exactly that was a long-term tradeoff since the doctors told us they were completely unrelated, but he seemed not to mind the short-term benefit of living a reasonably long time.

Also, where exactly do we draw the line? I mean, some people run 10 miles or more a day; surely that can't be normal and can be considered a measure to "improve on what you have," and statistically, those people tend to live longer. Do we consider eating certain foods that contain substances shown medically to lead to longer and more healthy lives, or for that matter, avoiding natural foods that contain substances shown medically to be harmful (fat, cholesterol, etc.) to be trying to improve on what we have? Before long, we'll be living in a world where technologies such as gene therapy could prevent or significantly reduce conditions like Down's Syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc. Should we avoid those as well?

I suspect that this study is the first in a long line of research that may lead to exciting new therapies for people who might not be able to learn normally. And yes, if it's shown effective without significant side effects, it might be used much as LASIK is today, a method of improve on what we were given with little to no risk. Personally, I don't see much wrong with that. If you disagree, that's certainly your right, but I would ask that you not judge others, try to impinge on the freedom of others to make informed decisions regarding their own body, or worst of all, try to keep the research from happening that could potentially improve the lives of many people who are not able to function normally in society due to preventable or even curable disabilities.

Just some food for thought.

so many questions (3, Interesting)

cindyann (1916572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136720)

Any observation or correlation to right-brained, i.e. left-handedness?

How did the subjects perform with a slightly higher current?

And when they cranked it to 11?

Overclocking vs. Bandwidth (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136770)

Is this really "overclocking"? If I have an 8bit processor and I try to do the same number of things, at the same clock rate, as a 16bit processor, of course it's going to take longer. It seems more reasonable that the increased current had some effect on parallel processing and memory function/bandwidth than on speed of molecular reactions.

Love the journal name... (4, Funny)

lazlo (15906) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136772)

The findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

Awesome pun.

Re:Love the journal name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136882)

How do you think these researchers came up with the idea in the first place?

Re:Love the journal name... (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136940)

also, you could say this is shocking news.

I'm game. Maybe. (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136788)

I remember experimenting with pulsed currents to generate phosphenes after reading a related SciAm article sometime in the 1980's. Set up a simple 555 pulse generator, use cotton pads with saline as contacts on your temples, and you can get some pretty cool light shows before it starts to tickle too much.

If this really is cutaneous stimulation, I'm perfectly comfortable building small current-limited supplies, and coming up with something that'll make good contact. I'm a little nervous about applying prolonged DC, though -- I'd expect to be generating chlorine (or nasty electrode chlorides) at one side and sodium hydroxide at the other, neither of which are good for the complexion.

I'm not game for sinking electrodes through my skull. Yet.

Oh, I get it now! (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136818)

That's why the diode [xkcd.org] worked!

Conditioning. (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34136888)

If the effect was only with the puzzles learned when the current was applied this sounds like plain ol' conditioning and the "over clock" comment isn't even slightly related (wow, bad science reporting. Who would guess it?).

On the other hand there are effects I can vaguely re-call from my abnormal psych class where one hemisphere of the parietal robe is inhibitory and the other excitatory, and disrupting this balance can change the resulting behaviour (one example I have in my notebook is that asymmetry in EEG readings for these regions are related to depression). So the effect could be due to the right to left current changing this balance in favour of excitation* and left to right in favour of inhibition with the result of either changing neuro-architecture for specific types of problems OR just playing a part of general conditioning.

* A lot of the people who have problems with maths have maths phobia where it is this phobia inhibiting their displayed ability at maths, not an inherent deficiency at maths.

YIAAPS.

flowers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34136950)

And please don't forget to leave flowers on Algernons grave.

Performance Enhancing Devices (1)

sacdelta (135513) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137016)

Pretty soon the Chess Federation and other intellectual competitions will have to start testing people for brain tampering.

Um.. (1)

JustFisher (1123293) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137058)

How can I reproduce this at home?

Awesome! (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137092)

Now I can finally finish a New York Times crossword. Just hit me up with some of that sweet juice first.

Caffeine (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137150)

Yeah, that's fucking awesome, but mostly because it's simply applying DC to the outside of people's skulls and without having to resort to skull-fuckery.
But when I first read the title, my knee-jerk reaction was: oh, so they discovered caffeine?

user control... (1)

llung (1841162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137160)

Where's the BIOS setting for this?

I used to do this all the time (1)

scourfish (573542) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137176)

I used to apply electric currents to my head while studying in the bathroom. It was really embarrassing later, though, when people knocked on the door to make sure I wasn't jacking on.

In the matrix ... (1)

bigrockpeltr (1752472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137204)

...im sure they went back to front.

Fiendish (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137270)

Fu Manchu: I had no idea that mere domestic power could be so stimulating.

the benefits appear to have persisted. (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34137338)

How lucky for those who received the reverse current. Now they're dumb for life.

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