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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stimulating brain with electricity aids learning speed

Electrically stimulating the brain can help to speed up the process of learning, scientists have shown.

Applying a small current to specific parts of the brain can increase its activity, making learning easier.

Researchers from the University of Oxford have studied the changing structure of the brain in stroke patients and in healthy adults.

Prof Heidi Johansen-Berg presented their findings at the British Science Festival in Bradford.

The team at Oxford has been conducting research into how the structure of the brain changes in adulthood, and in particular what changes occur after a stroke.

They have used an approach called functional MRI to monitor activity in the brain as stroke patients re-learn motor skills that were lost as a result of their illness.

One of the major findings is that the brain is very flexible and can restructure itself, growing new connections and reassigning tasks to different areas, when damage occurs or a specific task is practised.

As part of this research, they investigated the possibility of using non-invasive electric brain stimulation to improve the recovery of these motor skills; the short-term improvement in stroke patients had already been noted.

But an unexpected result was found when the same brain stimulation was applied to healthy adults: their speed of learning was also significantly increased.

This Articel Orignaly Published at BBC

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