This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Researchers transfer skills using brain waves

28 February 2016

A team of investigators from HRL Laboratories in the US have used trans-cranial direct current stimulation in order to improve learning and skill retention.

Illustration by John Enete, courtesy of HRL Laboratories

Researchers at HRL Laboratories, LLC, have discovered that low-current electrical brain stimulation can modulate the learning of complex real-world skills. Dr Matthew Phillips and his team of investigators at HRL used trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in order to improve learning and skill retention.

"We measured the brain activity patterns of six commercial and military pilots, and then transmitted these patterns into novice subjects as they learned to pilot an airplane in a realistic flight simulator," he says.

The study, published in the February 2016 issue of the journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that subjects who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities.

"We measured the average g-force of the plane during the simulated landing and compared it to control subjects who received a mock brain stimulation," says Phillips.

While previous research has demonstrated that tDCS can both help patients more quickly recover from a stroke and boost a healthy person's creativity, HRL's study is one of the first to show that tDCS is effective in accelerating practical learning.

Phillips speculates that the potential to increase learning with brain stimulation may make this form of accelerated learning commonplace.

"As we discover more about optimizing, personalizing, and adapting brain stimulation protocols, we'll likely see these technologies become routine in training and classroom environments," he says. "It's possible that brain stimulation could be implemented for classes like drivers' training, SAT prep, and language learning."


Print this page | E-mail this page