The Potential to Enhance the Human Intellect's Existing Capacity to Learn New Skills

It's a case of life imitating art. Much as the sci-fi film "The Matrix" depicted a device capable of enhancing skill acquisition, 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 from HRL's Information & System Sciences Laboratory used transcranial 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."

About HRL Laboratories, LLC
HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

Most Popular Now

Designing Soft Robots: Ethics-Based Guid…

Soft-bodied robots offer the possibility for social engagement, and novel tactile human-robot interactions that require careful consideration of the potential for misplaced emotional attachments and personally and socially destructive behavior...

Google Searches can be Used to Track Den…

An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational...

IMI Launches EUR 130 Million Calls for P…

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is launching two new Calls for proposals with topics on Alzheimer's disease, big data, vaccines, autoimmune disease, the blood-brain barrier, drug development, and the exploitation...

The Danish Reference Genome

After close to 5 years of work, the GenomeDenmark consortium has now finalized the efforts to establish a Danish Reference genome. The result is a reference of unrivalled quality and...

NHS Fife Connects Hospitals Following Su…

Ten hospitals across Fife are using real-time information to deliver better co-ordinated care for thousands of patients, following the successful go-live of InterSystems TrakCare®. Frontline staff in all of NHS...

eHealth Innovation Days 2017

7 - 8 September 2017, Flensburg, Germany. The 2nd eHealth Innovation Days will gather the different professionals and stakeholders concerned with eHealth: developers, healthcare professionals, researchers, policy makers, citizens as well...

Philips and Italian Fatebenefratelli Hos…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, and the historic San Giovanni Calibita Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome today announced a long-term strategic partnership to introduce...

Where Cutting-Edge Technologies and Indu…

4 - 5 October 2017, Galway, Ireland.Medtec Ireland 2017, Ireland's largest pure medical design and manufacturing event, will be taking place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway, Ireland. Following last...

Improving Students' Academic Performance…

A mobile learning app that uses game elements such as leaderboards and digital badges may have positive effects on student academic performance, engagement, and retention, according to a study published...

Allscripts to Acquire McKesson's Enterpr…

Allscripts (NASDAQ:MDRX), a global leader in healthcare technology, has announced a definitive agreement to acquire McKesson Corporation's (NYSE:MCK) hospital and health system IT business, Enterprise Information Solutions, for $185 million...