Great Scott! Thinking caps really do work!
Researchers from University of Sydney’s Centre for the Mind have demonstrated that a device worn on your head that passes low levels of electricity through the brain could increase creativity. According to a study, participants who received electrical stimulation of the anterior temporal lobes were three times more likely to solve a difficult, unfamiliar problem than those in the control group.
The technology, known as "transcranial direct current stimulation” (tDCS), works by temporarily increasing or decreasing the activity of populations of brain cells by means of weak electrical currents delivered to the left and right hemisphere anterior temporal lobes through scalp-mounted electrodes. The technology is actually more than a century old and was once touted as a medical fad used to cure depression. However, advancements in our understanding of neuroscience have caused researchers to reinvestigate the technology.
While tDCS is hardly a bolt of lightning to the head that can turn a stupid person into an instant genius, it could help people think outside the box and come up with creative, fresh solutions. From the journal article:
Our predisposition to use contextual cues from past experience confers a clear evolutionary advantage in rapidly dealing with the familiar, but this can lead to the mental set effect or overgeneralisation. As John Maynard Keynes noted, “The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify…into every corner of our mind.” Our findings suggest the possibility that brain stimulation can be used to modulate this tradeoff to our advantage in a specific situation, possibly by temporarily making our cognitive style less top-down influenced (hypothesis driven). For example, brain stimulation might allow a person to examine a problem anew instead of through the mental templates of what is already known.
Abstract and full article @ PLoS ONE…
Coverage from the Dana Foundation: Could an Electric ‘Thinking Cap’ Prod You to Think Out of the Box?