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Math Science

Can Electric Current Make People Better At Math? 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-it-can-make-them-worse dept.
cold fjord sends this excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: "In a lab in Oxford University's experimental psychology department, researcher Roi Cohen Kadosh is testing an intriguing treatment: He is sending low-dose electric current through the brains of adults and children as young as 8 to make them better at math. A relatively new brain-stimulation technique called transcranial electrical stimulation may help people learn and improve their understanding of math concepts. The electrodes are placed in a tightly fitted cap and worn around the head. ... The mild current reduces the risk of side effects, which has opened up possibilities about using it, even in individuals without a disorder, as a general cognitive enhancer. Scientists also are investigating its use to treat mood disorders and other conditions. ... Up to 6% of the population is estimated to have a math-learning disability called developmental dyscalculia, similar to dyslexia but with numerals instead of letters. [In an earlier experiment, Kadosh] found that he could temporarily turn off regions of the brain known to be important for cognitive skills. When the parietal lobe of the brain was stimulated using that technique, he found that the basic arithmetic skills of doctoral students who were normally very good with numbers were reduced to a level similar to those with developmental dyscalculia. That led to his next inquiry: If current could turn off regions of the brain making people temporarily math-challenged, could a different type of stimulation improve math performance?"
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Can Electric Current Make People Better At Math?

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  • yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by schwit1 (797399) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:33PM (#46233639)

    It's called negative feedback. Up the amps.

  • Next step (Score:5, Funny)

    by jxander (2605655) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:33PM (#46233643)

    The next logical step, of course, is increasing the voltage whenever someone gets an answer wrong.

    What could possibly go wrong? [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:yes (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:35PM (#46233655)
    A shocking discovery.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:44PM (#46233749) Homepage

    [In an earlier experiment, Kadosh] found that he could temporarily turn off regions of the brain known to be important for cognitive skills. When the parietal lobe of the brain was stimulated using that technique, he found that the basic arithmetic skills of doctoral students who were normally very good with numbers were reduced to a level similar to those with developmental dyscalculia. That led to his next inquiry: If current could turn off regions of the brain making people temporarily math-challenged, could a different type of stimulation improve math performance?"

    In another earlier experiment, he found that blowing an air raid horn at random intervals duing the math test made students perform weaker. He's now investigating if other sounds can make students perform better.

  • Re:yes (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:16PM (#46233999)

    Resistance is futile.

    No. Resistance is the point. If the subject has no resistance, he won't feel the shock as no energy is dissipated in his body.

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @11:50PM (#46235633)

    A ten year old public school boy was finding fifth grade math to be the challenge of his life. His mom and dad did everything and anything to help their son...private tutors, peer assistance, CD-ROMs, Textbooks, even HYPNOSIS! Nothing worked.

    Finally, giving up they enrolled him into a small Catholic school to await another destiny.

    At the end of the first day of school the boy walked in with a stern expression on his face, and walked right past the parents and went straight to his room -and quietly closed the door. For nearly two hours he toiled away in his room -with math books strewn about his desk and the surrounding floor. He only emerged long enough to eat, and after quickly cleaning his plate, he went straight back to his room, closed the door, and worked feverishly at his studies until bedtime.

    The parents were not sure if they should comment on the boys extra efforts for fear of him losing this new found fervor, so they seemingly ignored it. This pattern continued ceaselessly.

    One day the first quarter report card came out. Unopened, he dropped the envelope on the family dinner table and went straight to his room.

    His parents were petrified. What lay inside the envelope? Cautiously the mother opened the letter, and to her amazement she saw a bright red "A" under the subject, MATH.

    Overjoyed, she and her husband rushed into their son's room, thrilled at the remarkable progress of their young son!

    "Was it the nuns that did it?", the father asked. The boy only shook his head and said, "No." "Was it the one-on-one tutoring? The peer-mentoring?", asked the mother. Again, the boy shrugged, "No." "The textbooks? The teacher? The curriculum?", asked the father. "Nope," said the son. "It was all very clear to me from the very first day of Catholic school."

    "How so?", asked his mom.

    "When I walked into the lobby, and I saw that guy they'd nailed to the plus sign, I knew those people took their math seriously!"

1 Sagan = Billions & Billions

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