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According to a new study stimulating the brain with a very low electric current can enhance a person’s maths ability for up to six months.The study, done by esearchers at Britain’s Oxford University.

In the study, 15 student volunteers aged 20 and 21 were taught symbols that represented different numerical values. They were then timed to see how quickly and accurately they could complete a series of maths puzzles using on those symbols.

The teaching took place over six days and each day the volunteers were given either a placebo or a one milliamp electrical stimulus from right to left, or vice versa, across the parietal lobe — a brain area important for processing maths. The stimulus was administered for about 20 minutes each day.

The results published in the journal Current Biology showed volunteers who were given the electrical stimulation from right to left parietal lobes performed best.

It’s unclear what happened to those who were stimulated from left to right, but the report didn’t indicate that unlike a cartoon or some sort of comedy show, the reverse direction had the opposite effect and turned them into math idiots.

This group was re-tested six months after the training and the scientists found they maintained a high performance level.

Christopher Chambers of Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, who was not involved in the study, said the findings were “intriguing” and could have far-reaching implications.

“The results of this study … have exciting ramifications for the use of brain stimulation techniques in other domains,” he said in an email comment.

You can watch a BBC report on the study, below:

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  On November 6, 2010(5 years, 6 months ago.)

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