Researchers headed by Shapour Jaberzadeh and his group at Monash University have discovered a new noninvasive technique that could rev up your brain to improve your physical performance — for athletes and musicians, for instance — and might also improve treatments for brain-related conditions such as stroke, depression, and chronic pain.
The two neuroelectrical treatment methods currently in use are transcranial direct current simulation (tDCS) — low intensity direct current (direct current is what a battery creates) — and transcranial alternating current simulation (tACS) — current that constantly changes and reverses polarity (alternating current, or AC, is used in houses and buildings).
Introducing transcranial pulsed current stimulation
The newest method, called transcranial pulsed current stimulation (tPCS), increases more corticospinal (muscle-movement-related) excitability, according to the researchers.
“We discovered that this new treatment produced larger excitability changes in the brain,” said Jaberzadeh. In addition, increasing the length of the pulse and decreasing the [time] interval between pulses heightened excitability even further.
The research is described in a paper published Wednesday (July 15) in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
“When we learn a task during movement training (for example playing the piano), gradually our performance gets better. This improvement coincides with enhancement of the brain excitability. Compared to tDCS, our novel technique can play an important role in enhancement of the brain excitability, which may help recipients learn new tasks faster.”
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