Noise Can Help Improve Learning Potential

A recent study, pub­lished in Neu­ro­science and Biobe­hav­ioral Reviews, has pre­sent­ed a won­der­ful find­ing — noise is ben­e­fi­cial for learn­ing. As weird as it may sound, back­ground noise can help chil­dren focus better.

As men­tioned in the find­ing, noise can have a psy­cho­log­i­cal effect on the mind which will even­tu­al­ly help a weak cur­rent pass through and make a child con­cen­trate more on what they are doing.

While we tra­di­tion­al­ly pre­fer a peace­ful envi­ron­ment to study, the new research sug­gests that ‘noise’ may play an impor­tant role in assist­ing some peo­ple in improv­ing their learn­ing ability.

Team of researchers led by Dr Onno van der Groen also claimed that the study showed tRNS can, as a tool, assist peo­ple with neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions.

Tran­scra­nial ran­dom noise stim­u­la­tion (tRNS) has been stud­ied at Edith Cow­an Uni­ver­si­ty (ECU) in a vari­ety of set­tings and the results sug­gest that the tech­nol­o­gy has a wide range of poten­tial applications.

Despite its name, tRNS doesn’t actu­al­ly make use of noise in the tra­di­tion­al sense of the term. Instead, it exam­ines elec­trodes attached to the head to enable a weak cur­rent to pass across spe­cif­ic regions of the brain.

The researchers believe that peo­ple with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties can ben­e­fit from using this find­ing to speed up their learning.

“If you do 10 ses­sions of a visu­al per­cep­tion task with the tRNS and then come back and do it again with­out it, you’ll find you per­form bet­ter than the con­trol group who hasn’t used it,” Dr. van der Groen said.

Some con­cerns are prompt­ed by the con­cept of boost­ing one’s learn­ing poten­tial via tech­nolo­gies like tRNS.

It rais­es the con­cern of whether a neu­rotyp­i­cal per­son may enhance their intel­li­gence to greater lev­els, sim­i­lar to the idea in the film “Lim­it­less,” even though it is pri­mar­i­ly rel­e­vant to peo­ple with defi­cien­cies and learn­ing difficulties.

Accord­ing to Dr. van der Groen, there is poten­tial, but there are also signs that it won’t cre­ate a “new lev­el” of intelligence.

“The ques­tion is, if you’re neu­rotyp­i­cal, are you already per­form­ing at your peak,” he said.

The researchers cite a case study in which they tried to enhance a super mathematician’s math­e­mat­i­cal abil­i­ties; with him, it had lit­tle to no impact on his per­for­mance, prob­a­bly because he has already spe­cial­ized in that field. How­ev­er, if you’re learn­ing some­thing new, you might use it.

Although the tech­nique is still in its infan­cy and peo­ple can only access tRNS by join­ing con­trolled tri­als, Dr. van der Croen said there was a lot of poten­tial for a vari­ety of appli­ca­tions giv­en its prac­ti­cal­i­ty and appar­ent safety.

Stat­ing that the con­cept is rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple, van der Croen fur­ther added, “It’s like a bat­tery: the cur­rent runs from plus to minus, but it goes through your head as well”.

“We’re work­ing on a study where we send the equip­ment to peo­ple, and they apply every­thing them­selves remote­ly. So in that regard, it’s quite easy to use”, said van der Croen. 

Researchers from all over the world are also look­ing at how tRNS influ­ences per­cep­tion, work­ing mem­o­ry, sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing, and oth­er behav­ioral ele­ments. This is because the tech­nol­o­gy has the poten­tial to treat a num­ber of clin­i­cal conditions.

Any­way, this won­der­ful find­ing is like­ly to assist peo­ple with neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions to improve their learn­ing abil­i­ty, using tRNS tool.

The impact of this find­ing also seems immense because it has the poten­tial to help mil­lions of peo­ple liv­ing in the world with low atten­tion span and oth­er kinds of learn­ing difficulties.

How­ev­er, an inter­est­ing aspect also remains unknown as to how far it is pos­si­ble to make use of this find­ing so that it can be more gen­er­al­ized and make a greater impact on human­i­ty. We look for­ward to its future developments!

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