Literally donning an electrode-studded thinking cap can improve your memory by 110 percent, according to a new study by Australian researchers. The method applies electricity to the head to inhibit a specific region of the brain that has been implicated in autism.
Richard Chi, a Ph.D. student at the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney, wondered if inhibiting a specific brain area could improve memory as well as perceptual skills experienced by people with autism, New Scientist reports.
In the study, 36 volunteers examined a series of slides containing shapes that varied in number, size and color, according to New Scientist. Then they were shown five "test" slides, some of which included the study slides, and some that did not. They were asked if they could remember any of the original "study" slides.
Then they donned an electrode cap that transmitted a weak electrical signal, in a method called transcranial direct current stimulation. One group received signals that boosted their right anterior temporal lobes, and suppressed activity on their left ATL. A second group got the opposite treatment and a third was a placebo group.
The first group's shape-recognition scores improved by 110 percent, the study found.
Both sides of the anterior temporal lobe are important for memory processing -- the left ATL deals with context, while the right ATL is associated with visual memory, New Scientist says. Chi's team says inhibiting activity in the left ATL reduces the confusing influence of context, cutting down on visual memory errors. People can more easily perceive the literal details of what they're seeing.
The team has already shown that low-frequency magnetic pulses can inhibit false memories, also by temporarily inhibiting the left ATL.
People with autism have lesions on their left ATL, New Scientist reports.
kids put on your thinking caps...
Me got to get me one of them things
This article doesnt state whether this was a permanant memory improvement or if it only happens during the use of the cap.
Unless this can be a perm effect, it is only good for researching our potential.
That, or we would need to wear the cap all the time.
as a student id wear it all the time
where do I buy one?
@CDales1004: It's implied that the effect is only temporary, while the brain is stimulated. But it's practical for certain applications. For example, it's useful for people wanting to better remember movies, or faces, or anything they may not see often.
Though there seems to be a hitch in this. If contextual embedding is dulled, wouldn't it be harder to understand a memory formed during this treatment, even if you can see it perfectly? For example, you may remember the fine print on Contract A, but if you can't remember what Contract A was for, is it really useful to remember that?
Of course, depending on the visuals remembered, it may be possible to retroactively fill in the blanks...i.e. if you remember seeing the text "By signing this contract, you agree to lease the car for one year..." then you'll be able to figure out, even if you don't actually remember, that Contract A was a lease on a car...
So it can go both ways. It's certainly interesting, though. The idea that you can turn off and on savant qualities at will...some amazing stuff.
-IMP ;) :)
how do you like the new school uniforms?
If this really works it could be amazing, especially because you don't need any pharmaceuticals.
This is for math majors, not literary ones. A lot of savants cant do things like metaphor, and other literary devices. They take things in a real literal sense. Like when you say "It's raining cats and dogs." They actually go outside and look. This wouldn't be good for any task that took some creativity.
This would be nice for a lot more the autism. I've been having severe memory issues for the past 4 or 5 years, starting small at first and ramping up. Its to the point now that I forget probably about 85% of what I've done greater then 24 hours ago. My concentration is also shot along with multitasking and trying to come up with a word while taking or typing is like trying to walk through a dense fog. If this could help then I'd wear it 24/7 if I had to and I'm sure anyone else in my position would do the same.
watch one day wal-mart will have them for back to school supplies
if they put these in normal hats itd be great. and while there at it why dont they make it so it can read minds and when we have a question the cap could just google it and transmit it back to our brain
This would be excellent for medical school and biology XD
It would be interesting to know what the electrode reactions are. Does it produce hydrogen at the cathode and metal ions at the anode? What sort of voltage is used?
A quick test across my temples (wetted with water) with an ohmmeter found a couple hundred kilohms resistance. I don't feel any more intelligent though.