Just HOW Badly Do You Need that A in Math?

Education GeekMom
Image: Colourbox.com
Image: Colourbox.com

Are you struggling in math? Have you ever considered what extremes you might go through to get those taxes done accurately? Or to balance your checkbook? Perhaps you need to finish up that statistical comparison of two backyard weather stations for your next GeekMom review.

Have you considered electrical stimulation to improve those skills? Roi Cohen Kadosh’s team at Oxford University has proven that it’s possible.

In 2010 researchers at Oxford University in the United Kingdom discovered that gentle electrical stimulations to the brain can help humans retain basic math functions. This was studied with a group receiving the stimulations while performing arbitrary, invented mathematical-type tasks and was reported in November 2010 in the journal Current Biology.

This month, many members of the same team, including Roi Cohen Kadosh, reported on their continuation of the study that repeated the 2010 experiment on a different group of patients: for 5 days, the patients either received real or false electrical stimulations while performing the math tasks. Those who received the real stimulations were performing the math tasks two to five times faster than those without. In addition, the group was assessed at the six-month point after the experiment completion and it was discovered that the skills were retained in those who were electrically stimulated. This shows a long term promise for such an extreme-sounding treatment.

Click through the link here to read more about the study and its implications for helping those with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Math Skills Improved By Electric Shocks To Brain, Study Suggests.

What do you think? Would you do it? Do you think this might apply to other cognitive functions, such as memorizing passages from Hamlet?

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5 thoughts on “Just HOW Badly Do You Need that A in Math?

  1. This makes me think of people who lose weight by having their stomach stapled. Evidently both procedures work (at least temporarily) but I’d rather stick with the simpler and more direct solutions to such problems.

  2. It’s fun to make fun of this, but the real world implications are vast and obvious.

    Think, for a moment, of a wounded veteran. We’ve known for years that electrostimulation works wonders with certain types of physical injuries, and this veteran may well receive various forms of this in his physical therapy. What if this bit of research applies to the injured *brain*? What a miracle that would be, to make the cognitive rehab easier and more effective in a wide variety of tasks. What if electrostim to the brain works for physical tasks too?

    Stroke victims (where similar therapies are already used). Certain types of learning disabilities. The possibilities are really exciting. And you have to use healthy individuals in the research, and an easily measured parameter like a math task, to see the results. We know so little about the injured brain that the average brain has to be the test subject.

    I know funny and tongue in cheek is the point, but despite the photo (where the equipment had to be cobbled together) this is really not all that extreme. Painless, and a mature therapy would likely have a sort of beanie hat to wear, or small electrodes that attach easily. I hope this pans out.

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