Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has been touted as a treatment for everything from stroke rehab to depression and PTSD. A new research study funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) showed that in monkeys, learning was accelerated by 40% after being given a small electrical stimulation to the front of the brain, via a non-invasive stimulator. The monkeys were given a task that required associative learning.
In the study, the animals were shown visual cues to indicate the location of a treat. The group that received the tDCS stimulation learned how to find the treat after about 12 tries. The group of animals that did not receive the stimulation took about 21 tries to find the treat. Researchers from HRL Labs in California, McGill University in Canada and Soterix Medical in New York participated in the study which was published in the journal Current Biology. Moving forward, the plan is to develop the device further and test it on humans.