Is this the future of learning?

by L&D17 May 2016
For many empoyees, it always a challenge to make split-second decisions that depend on being able to quickly assimilate knowledge gleaned from personal experiences.

Now, HRL Laboratories, LLC in Malibu, California has been awarded funding for a two-year project to test whether low-current electrical brain stimulation could be used to accelerate learning while decreasing training time and costs.

Their goal is to develop a man-portable system to boost learning during waking and memory consolidation during sleep, thereby increasing a person's ability to quickly integrate and accurately recall information.

In fact, the team will be the first to use "next-generation electrode-embedded head caps to apply high-definition transcranial current stimulation (HD-tCS) in order to tag specific memories and skills during learning", according to the project leader, Dr. Praveen Pilly.

“We'll develop a first-of-its-kind cognitive model of memory replays during sleep/wake stages to predict task performance that can be personalised to control the stimulation intervention for each user," said Pilly.

This project builds on previous HRL research demonstrating the effectiveness of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in accelerating practical learning, and understanding the underlying neural mechanisms.

HRL claim their research will be conducted in accordance with “the highest scientific standards”, and will incorporate safety guidelines and a monitoring plan.

Before they begin human trials, the project's research protocol will be approved by two institutional review boards at UC Berkeley and University of New Mexico.

In addition to employees, the invention could also benefit students, athletes and those with traumatic brain injury who have impaired memory, said Pilly.

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