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The Future of Cognitive Enhancement

Posted May 24 2014 10:07pm

A team from Vanderbilt University (Tennessee, USA) has investigated the human “mistake response.”  The researchers applied transcranial direct current stimulation to the medial-frontal cortex in human subjects, who were challenged with a series of learning tasks while researchers monitored resulting brain activity:   Electrical stimulation in one direction of current flow “eliminated performance-monitoring activity, reduced behavioral adjustments after an error, and slowed learning.”  By reversing the current flow, the team enhanced performance-monitoring activity, increased behavioral adjustments after an error, and sped learning. These beneficial effects fundamentally improved cognition for nearly 5 h after 20 min of noninvasive stimulation.  The investigators comment that: “Our findings demonstrate that the functioning of mechanisms of cognitive control and learning can be up or down-regulated using noninvasive stimulation of medial-frontal cortex in the human brain."

Reinhart RM, Woodman GF.  "Causal control of medial-frontal cortex governs electrophysiological and behavioral indices of performance monitoring and learning.  J Neurosci. 2014 Mar 19;34(12):4214-27.

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