Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Zap your brain to enhance your planning ability

Enhancement of Planning Ability by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation.


  1. Anthony Cole8:01 PM

    Hi Deric. Great blog. I just surfed in here Googling "simple syntax" "serious syntax" "fancy syntax" (I'm reading Tomasello's book "Origins of human communication"). The study in the above paper (Dockery et al, Enhancement of Planning Ability by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation)
    is the first intervention I've come across that seems to actually improve executive function. Are you aware of any others?

  2. It is claimed that working memory exercises in general, such as the n-back exercises I have mentioned in several posts, improve executive function.

  3. Anthony12:23 AM

    Thank you for that Deric, but the studies you refer to show "exercise-dependent" heightened frontal activity, DA expression and D1 quantity, which fall off when the exercises are dropped, rather like exercising a muscle at the gym.

    I could be misreading the abstract (I don't have access to the article) but Dockerty seems to be claiming her method induces permanent improvement in capacity, which, in terms of therapy, would be revolutionary:

    "This gain of function was sustained in a follow-up 6 and 12 months after training. In conclusion, the specific coupling of stimulation and training phase interventions may support the treatment of cognitive disorders involving frontal lobe functions."

  4. By this time, you are more of an expert than I am. I have now put the PDF of the original article here:

  5. Anthony11:23 AM

    Thank you so much for that Deric. It seems the improved speed and accuracy on EF tests after 6 months and a year were due to rules and strategies (about how to perform the tasks) which the subjects had learned during the initial trials - rather than permanently enhanced executive function. What a shame!

    I'm no expert, just interested. Thanks also for many other links, especially "Stress pathways that impair prefrontal cortex" on 2nd June - I've downloaded every article in that issue.