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Electroshock Your Way to Better Math Skills

Electro-Shock TherapyOne thing this writer was never particularly good at was math, which is why he turned to blogging and away from a career as an electrical engineer. But researchers at the University of Oxford believe that mild electrical stimulation of the brain can actually improve math skills, for up to six months at time, without any negative side effects. Roi Cohen Kadosh, a researcher on the project, told LiveScience that he wouldn't suggest that people go around shocking themselves silly, though. "Electrical stimulation will most likely not turn you into Albert Einstein," he said. Rather, the treatment could provide benefits to those with learning disabilities or who have suffered a stroke.

The research team's tests consisted of applying transcranial direct current stimulation to five students' parietal lobes (i.e., the region of the brain responsible for processing numerical information). The students, who all possessed average mathematical skills, were asked to solve basic problems using a collection of "artificial numbers" (random symbols in place of actual numerical values). The study found that the students' ability to solve the problems improved after receiving a mild shock treatment. The next step for the researchers will be measuring how those affected by disability, degenerative disease and stroke will respond to the treatment. The Switched crew, on the other hand, is going to see if it can produce similar results by licking a nine-volt battery.

Tags: brain, ElectricalShock, electroshock, intelligence, math, medicine, OxfordUniversity, science, top