Learning magnets.

PhysOrg makes me fight an overwhelming urge to start raving about “thinking caps” and “memory machines” with their look at how transcranial magnetic stimulation can speed learning:

Since the mid-1990’s, repetitive TMS has been used to make purposeful changes to the activability of nerve cells in the human cortex: “In general, the activity of the cells drops as a result of a low-frequency stimulation, i.e. with one magnetic pulse per second. At higher frequencies from five to 50 pulses per second, the activity of the cells increases”, explained [Prof. Dr. Klaus] Funke [of the Bochum Department of Neurology].

In a second study, recently published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, Prof. Funke’s group was able to show that rats also learned more quickly if they were treated with the activating stimulus protocol (iTBS) before each training, but not if the inhibiting cTBS protocol has been used.