THE research arm of the US military has discovered a way to increase learning speed by up to 40 per cent in a move which could lead to a generation of super soldiers.
US’ government’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has demonstrated how a non-invasive method which could massively boost learning speed.
Their study, working with scientists from the HRL Laboratories in California, McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and Soterix Medical in New York, shows through a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) – using magnets to stimulate a small area of the brain – device to stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, learning speed was increased by 40 per cent.
The researchers tested their method on macaques and then prompted them to perform tasks in order to earn a reward.
The monkeys that wore the device mastered the tasks to earn their reward in 12 trials, but those without took 21 trials, according to the research published in Current Biology.
Lead HRL researcher Praveen Pilly said: “In this experiment, we targeted the prefrontal cortex with individualised non-invasive stimulation montages.
“That is the region that controls many executive functions, including decision-making, cognitive control, and contextual memory retrieval.
“It is connected to almost all the other cortical areas of the brain, and stimulating it has widespread effects.”
The study read: “These results are consistent with the idea that tDCS leads to widespread changes in brain activity and suggest that it may be a valuable method for cheaply and non-invasively altering functional connectivity in humans.”
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