6 Nov 2010

Electric current to brain 'improves maths ability'

11:20 am on 6 November 2010

British scientists say stimulating the brain with a very low electric current may make you better at maths.

Researchers at Oxford University studying 15 student volunteers found that passing a current through a specific brain region and in a particular direction improved performance in maths puzzles.

They targeted a part of the brain called the parietal lobe, which neuroscientists believe plays a crucial role in numerical ability, the BBC reports.

They hope the discovery could help people with dyscalculia, who may struggle with numbers.

Dr Cohen Kadosh, who led the study, said researchers were not advising people to go around giving themselves electric shocks, but hope their work will help those who have serious difficulty with numbers.

Some studies have suggested that up to one in five people have trouble with maths, affecting not just their ability to complete problems but also to manage everyday activities such as telling the time and managing money.

The findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.