As people may get relief from depression through electroconvulsive therapy, a study from the University of Oxford has found that ECT could enhance someone’s math performance, well, at least a jolt of electricity to the brain.
The participants didn’t really get the ‘full ECT treatment.’ But using a noninvasive method of brain stimulation known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), whereby a weak current is applied to the brain constantly over time to enhance or reduce neuron activity, the researchers targeted the parietal lobe – a region of the brain crucial for numerical understanding. They saw that the TDSC treatment improved the participants’ ability to learn the new numbers, with the improvements lasting six months after the treatment.
“We’ve shown before that we can temporarily induce dyscalculia [with another method of brain stimulation], and now it seems we might also be able to make someone better at math. Electrical stimulation will most likely not turn you into Albert Einstein, but if we’re successful, it might be able to help some people to cope better with maths,” said Roi Cohen Kadosh, Wellcome Research Career Development Fellow at Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology.