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Health Beat: Want to learn faster?

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 08 2014 04:38:15 PM CDT

Want to learn faster? Researchers say all you need to do is put on your thinking cap. Researchers at Vanderbilt University are using electrical stimulation to speed up the brain.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Laura McClenahan isn't just playing a game. A fitted red cap is actually stimulating her brain.

"It feels like a mild, itching sensation," said McClenahan, a researcher at Vanderbilt University.

In a new study published in the journal "Neuroscience," researchers at Vanderbilt are proving it's possible to manipulate our ability to learn by using a mild electrical current.

"So, essentially we can make you learn faster with 20 minutes of non-invasive electrical stimulation," said Robert Reinhart at PhD candidate at Vanderbilt.

Reinhart said the thinking cap activates the frontal lobe, the part of the brain involved in problem-solving, memory and judgement.

"We’ve found a way to causally up-regulate, increase and boost these brain activities related to monitoring," Reinhart said.

Not only can you learn faster, but depending on the direction of the current, your mental performance can also be slowed down.

"It’s also systematic and reliable and enough for us to be satisfied with gaining that kind of causal control," Reinhart said.

Researchers said the learning effects last about five hours.

Researchers are also trying to figure out if electrical current therapy could help patients with mental health conditions, like schizophrenia or ADHD.