There is a theory that the spark of genius lurks hidden within all of us.Now scientists are developing a ‘thinking cap’ that could turn that theory into practice and unlock the amazing potential of the human brain. The device uses tiny magnetic pulses to change the way the brain works and has produced remarkable results in tests.
The ‘thinking cap’ can improve artistic ability and proof-reading skills
after a few minutes, left, and Professor Allan Snyder who
hopes to be able to produce creativity on demand
The hairnet-like cap uses tiny magnetic pulses to change the way the brain works and has led to improved artistic ability, mathematical ability and proof-reading skills.
If the technique is perfected, the device could be marketed as a cap slipped on to boost creativity and intellectual capacity. The technique is based on research into savants, like the Dustin Hoffman character in the film Rainman, who have extraordinary abilities as well as severe mental disability, reported the Telegraph.
They act as if one part of the brain has been sacrificed so that the other is more powerful. The cap can reproduce the same affect by careful targeting of the magnetic pulses allows over or under-active parts of the brain to be calmed down or jump-started.
Professor Allan Snyder at Sydney University believes the experiments show we all have hidden talents, we just have trouble tapping into them.
“I believe that each of us has within us non-conscious machinery which can do extraordinary art, extraordinary memory and extraordinary mathematical calculations,” he said.
“We don’t normally access these skills because they are the machinery behind our daily lives and everything we do.
“My theory is that there is a lot happening and maybe you could see it by shutting off that conscious part of the brain.”
His ultimate aim is to produce a thinking cap that would unleash creativity as and when required. “Imagine if I could temporarily give you a child’s look at the world,” he said.
The researchers used a cap equipped with magnetic coil to zap the left side of the brain.
This side generally sees the “bigger picture” and suppresses the detail-hoarding right side. In one experiment, volunteers were asked to draw a dog, horse or face from memory before and after being zapped for ten to 15 minutes.
Four of the 11 volunteers produced more natural pictures after wearing the cap. Two also spotted written mistakes in pieces of text that they’d overlooked earlier, a Royal Society conference heard on Monday.
“Normally we are aware of the whole and not the parts that make it up. These attributes of objects are inhibited in normal brains,” said Snyder.
“Savants have access to the less processed information, before it is packaged into holistic concepts and labels. Autistic savants tend to see a more literal, less filtered view of the world,” he added.
The effects of the thinking-cap zap may remain upto an hour, said the researchers.
Via The Times