Want to be a Genius? Try Zapping Your Brain

Researchers are hoping to use electric jolts to jump start people’s brains

Goodbye studying, hello brain zapping. Image: JuditK

People do all sorts of things to try and get ahead. Students take Adderol, stay up all night studying, drink all sorts of strange RedBull-and-whatever-else concoctions. But what if you could zap your brain into shape?

Wired reports that one company, Creativitycap, thinks they can jolt your brain into action. Or at least make you act a bit more like a savant. The company’s visionary is Allan Snyder. He explained to Wired how he thinks our brains work:

Snyder hypothesizes that all people possess savant-like abilities in a dormant form, but that savants have “privileged access” to less-processed, lower-level information. In a normal brain, top-down controls suppress the barrage of raw data our brains take in, enabling us to focus on the big picture.

So to get your brain to act more like a savant’s brain you have to uncork the data, turn off the emergency break, and dive in. To do that, you need a hat that will shock your brain, of course.

This sounds really strange, but the strangest part is that it might actually do something. Participants in a study were presented with something called the nine dots problem. Here’s the game — I give you these nine dots:

The nine dots puzzle. Image: Blleininger

Your job is to connect all nine dots using just four straight lines without ever lifting up your pen or retracing a line. Try it. If you can’t do it, that’s okay, almost no one can. (Here’s the solution) But what if you tried it with the brain zapper? Wired reports:

Snyder and Chi had their subjects attempt to solve the problem while wearing an electrode cap. After a few minutes without brain stimulation, half of the subjects received stimulation while the other half received no stimulation. Here’s the interesting part: Whereas none of the subjects solved the problem before brain stimulation, more than 40 percent of subjects in the stimulation group solved the problem after being zapped. Talk about being struck by inspiration.

Maybe creativity really is like a lightbulb – flip the switch and voila!

More from Smithsonian.com

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Why We Don’t Like Creativity

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