Brain-boosting technique might help some functions while hurting others

March 6, 2013

Transcranial Brain Stimulation (credit: NIH)

Electrically stimulating the brain may enhance memory, but impede a person’s ability to react without thinking, MIT Technology Review reports.

Using a noninvasive technique called transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) to stimulate the brain, researchers found they could enhance learning when they targeted a certain spot.

But that also made people worse at automaticity, or the ability to perform a task without really thinking about it. Stimulating another part of the brain had the reverse effect, on both learning and automaticity.

It’s also not yet clear how significant the findings are, especially when it comes to real-world applications, the researchers say. People who suffered language loss after a stroke are likely willing to accept some trade-offs to get back on track, they points out.