Brain Power: Cap Shocks Your Noggin to Make You Smarter

Remember when you were really little and your parents or teachers would tell you to “put on your thinking cap” to solve problems? It turns out that there really is such thing as a thinking cap, and it looks a lot like the headband-type contraption in the image above. According to a recent study from Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney, small electric shocks can make you temporarily smarter, more creative, and a better problem solver. You probably can’t tell, but the woman in this picture is being gently shocked in the brain with a small amount of electricity. And because of it, she is better able to solve problems like the nine dot puzzle below.

The puzzle (on the left) is not solvable by the majority of the population under normal circumstances. The instructions are to connect all of the dots with four continuous straight lines without lifting your pencil or backtracking. The solution, on the right, was reached by no participants without electrical brain stimulation. But after 10 minutes of the treatment, 40% of participants came up with the right answer right away. There are apparently no lasting effects – good or bad – from the treatment, so you could put on that thinking cap for a quick brainpower boost before a test and not have to worry about leaving with fewer brain cells than you had before.

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See more in Cybernetics or under Technology. August, 2012.

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