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November 09, 2004

Wired For Words

According to an article in the magazine Nature, sending a minute electrical current across the front of the head can increase verbal skills. In research carried out at the US National Institutes of Health, volunteers were asked to name as many words as they could starting with a given letter in 90 seconds. Most people get around 20 words, but with a tiny current of two thousandths of an amp applied for 20 minutes, test subjects were able to name about 20% more words than controls. A smaller current of one thousandth of an amp had no effect. It is specualted that the stimulus to the prefrontal cortex, where word generation takes place, alters brain cells and makes them more active. No mention is made of any potential implications for education. Rather, the results may be a viable alternative to the risky use of magnetic fields in the treatment of patients with diseases such as frontal temporal dementia. (Photo © Getty)
Electric currents boost brain power

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