17 May 2013

Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (TRNS) Enhances Math Skills and Ability in Brain

Researchers have found that a non-invasive and harmless process known as Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (TRNS) enhances the brain's ability in math skills and ability for as long as six months.

Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation is a form of brain stimulation where brain functions are modified by using weak electrical current over the scalp using contact electrodes. TRNS is one type of transcranial current stimulation where the stimulation current is varied randomly.

The principle behind this type of brain stimulation is that the electrical fields generated by the electrical currents modulate the activity of brain neurons and can enhance certain brain functions.

TRNS is a relatively new process but recent studies have already shown enhanced brain performance using this technique.

Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation (TRNS) Improves Math Skills

In the future, if you want to improve your ability to manipulate numbers in your head, you might just plug yourself in. So say researchers who report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 16 on studies of a harmless form of brain stimulation applied to an area known to be important for math ability.

"With just five days of cognitive training and noninvasive, painless brain stimulation, we were able to bring about long-lasting improvements in cognitive and brain functions," says Roi Cohen Kadosh of the University of Oxford.

Incredibly, the improvements held for a period of six months after training. No one knows exactly how this relatively new method of stimulation, called transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS), works. But the researchers say the evidence suggests that it allows the brain to work more efficiently by making neurons fire more synchronously.

Video: Deep Brain Stimulation

Cohen Kadosh and his colleagues had shown previously that another form of brain stimulation could make people better at learning and processing new numbers (see related links). But, he says, TRNS is even less perceptible to those receiving it. TRNS also has the potential to help even more people. That's because it has been shown to improve mental arithmetic—the ability to add, subtract, or multiply a string of numbers in your head, for example—not just new number learning. Mental arithmetic is a more complex and challenging task, which more than 20 percent of people struggle with.

Ultimately, Cohen Kadosh says, with better integration of neuroscience and education, this line of study could really help humans reach our cognitive potential in math and beyond. It might also be of particular help to those suffering with neurodegenerative illness, stroke, or learning difficulties.

"Maths is a highly complex cognitive faculty that is based on a myriad of different abilities," Cohen Kadosh says. "If we can enhance mathematics, therefore, there is a good chance that we will be able to enhance simpler cognitive functions."


Cell Press
Current Biology
Electrical brain stimulation improves math skills
University of Oxford
Long-Term Enhancement of Brain Function and Cognition Using Cognitive Training and Brain Stimulation
V5 Region of Visual Cortex Responsible For Tracking Fast Moving Object
Doctors Should Not Prescribe ADHD Drugs To Healthy People For Neuroenhancement
High Level of Math Anxiety Linked To Brain Regions For Physical Pain and Threat Detection
New Tool Developed To Monitor Patients Undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
MIT News: Astrocyte Brain Cells Plays Key Role In Processing Sensory Information
Nerve Stimulator Decreases Migraine Attacks
Scent of Rosemary Enhances and Improves Brain's Cognitive Performance
Milk and It's Effect on Brain Development and Performance
MIT News: Mystery Behind Human Language May Be Explained Through Information Theory
Studying The Innate and Cultural Cognitive Origins of Math