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Friday, April 27, 2012

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

Interesting title, right? It's an interesting, if scary, concept, too!

Today's edition of the Chronicle asks if "electricity is the new smart drug." Apparently the concept of hooking people up to receive small doses (I'm not sure what "small" is), is gaining new attention as a method of improving learning and retention.

A research study ( that tested subjects' ability to recognize potential threats in the form of disguised roadside bombs, etc., indicated that those individuals receiving a "higher" dose of current learned to recognize threats faster than those receiving a lower dose of current--although both groups "performed better with current than without."

The reason WHY this treatment is effective is still somewhat mysterious, though the article notes, "It seems that the low-level current stimulates neurons, making them more likely to fire, thereby putting the brain in a state where it’s more likely to form connections." (Bartlett)

It appears that there are already YouTube videos as well as a web site where you can buy a kit to try this yourself. Hmmmm. Maybe the next time I am installing an electrical outlet, I'll leave the breaker on and THEN see if I can do math!

Bartlett, Tom. "Is Electricity the New Smart Drug?" - Blogs/Percolator. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <>.