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Want to improve your Math skills without working hard? Simply zap the brain with a weak current of electricity and voila, all your (math) problems will be solved! At least that's the claim being made by a team of British scientists from London's Oxford University.
The main aim of the experiment, conducted on a group of student volunteers from Oxford University and University College London, was to test if parts of the brain could be shocked into getting it to work better with numbers.
To test this, 15 students, divided into three groups were asked to solve the same two mathematical problems every day for a week. The problems, which involved identifying the larger of two numbers and plotting one on a number line, were made a little more challenging by replacing the numbers 1-9 with symbols.
However, prior to starting the test, two of the groups were subjected to a 20-minute session of a light electric current to the parietal lobes, which the scientists believe is the brain's number cruncher. For the first group the current flow was passed right to left, while for the second it was transmitted left to right. The third group received no help at all.
The group that got zapped right to left seemed to show a tremendous improvement in their math skills. However, the ones that got zapped left to right regressed to the level of almost six-year olds! The results for the people who got no help were somewhere in between.
While scientists are not sure why direction of the current would make such a difference, they believe that zapping it from the right side, seemed to turn up the activity of the brain cells to math, while going the other way turned or closed them down. Luckily, the impact was limited to the squiggles not numerals and, is expected to last for only six months!
While this is great news, do not toss out your Kumon supplements or fire your math tutor yet. That's because the research, no matter how successful is not being done to aid lazy students, but to help people who suffer from dyscalculia, a disease where people can't cope with simple day-to-day numerical issues, like counting change or figuring out their expenses.
Sources: livescience.com, dailymail.co.uk