New research about brain stimulation, the passing of electrical currents through the brain, was discussed at a major science conference in Chicago this week. The new therapy may lead to improved recoveries from stokes.
A conference held in April in Chicago of cognitive neuroscientists discussed a technique of brain stimulation, or , to give it the full scientific name - transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The research team behind a series of trials were based at University College London, UK.
tDCS is a form of neurostimulation which uses constant, low current delivered directly to the brain area of interest via small electrodes. The technique works by sending constant, low direct current through electrodes. When these electrodes are placed close to the region of the brain of concern, the current induces electrical flow. The flow can then either increase or decrease the the way that brain neurones react which leads to alteration of brain function.
What the research team behind some recent studies put forwards was the tDCS ) can have various positive effects on the brain lasting for up to 12 months, Science News reported. In particular, non-invasive brain stimulation had a positive effect in aiding recovery among stroke sufferers.
One aspect of the new research demonstrated that tDCS treatment can aid the recovery of language skills. The positive benefits highlighted by the UK team also related to a different set of experiments from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Sao Paolo, which showed brain stimulation can trigger better memory retention.
To add to this, further research from the University of Oxford showed that the technique can aid people with numeracy problems. In relation to this, Roi Cohen Kadosh, the lead researcher said in a press release "These experiments advance our understanding of how numerical abilities are subserved in the typical and atypical brain, and provide a possible means to improve numerical cognition, thus having important implications for education, intervention, and rehabilitation."
The sum total of the research suggests several wide-ranging applications. One key benefit of the therapy is that it is painless, relatively inexpensive and is apparently safe.
Although such therapies are evidently in their 'early days', the methods do have potential and are worth keeping track of.