Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation involves stimulating a person’s brain with a mild electric current. What happens if the frontal lobes of people’s brains are stimulated while they are working on problems.
Date: February 23, 2015
Links: Article Link – Bar-Ilan University. “Neuroscientists literally change the way we think: Advantages of a wandering mind.” Science Daily, 23 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223164531.htm>.
One of the ways in which we can study the role of specific brain regions in mental functioning is to use a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in which brain regions are stimulated by low electric currents. In the article found at the link above Israeli neuroscientist Moshe Bar describes a series of studies in which participants were asked to work on mental problems while different area of their brains were stimulated using tDCS. Two very interesting findings were first that stimulation of the frontal lobes of the brain produced mind wandering or day dreaming. The second finding seemed initially to be a bit unexpected in that participants who were engaged in stimulated mind wandering actually performed better on the problem solving tasks they were asked to work on than did non-stimulated participants. Dr. Bar suggests that it really is not that surprising in that perhaps the stimulated mind wandering actually “opened up” the or fired up participants minds in ways that lead to more favorable performance. We can all recall times when we came up with solutions to often quite complex problems while day dreaming or not apparently thinking about our problems at all.
Questions for Discussion:
- Why did Dr. Bar think that day dreaming or mind wandering might sometimes help in cognitive problem solving?
- Do you think there might be limits to the sorts of problem solving tasks that would be helped by tDCS(timulation) of the frontal lobes?
- What might be some possible applications of this sort of research?
References (Read Further):
Vadim Axelrod, Geraint Rees, Michal Lavidor, Moshe Bar. Increasing propensity to mind-wander with transcranial direct current stimulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201421435