Now not for one moment am I trying to pull the wool over your eyes (love that saying!) and have you believe that I was a model student at school. Much of my studying and learning has occurred after ditching the school tie and venturing out into the world. Yet, like I am sure many of us, I wish for my children to follow another path and apply themselves at school.

It is a conversation we often have here at Comms Express and the importance of a good education, so it was with interest that I learnt about a new way for students to get the grey matter working.

It would seem that the phrase get the ‘thinking cap’ is to become a reality to help students cramming for those all-important exams. American psychologists have come up with a headband with two electrodes, these are attached to the top of the head and cheek area and then 20 minutes of direct currents are then applied. Apparently, the only abnormal feeling was that of a slight tingling and itching.

The report in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals that a mild direct current travels from the anodal electrode, through the skin, muscle, bones and brain and out through the corresponding cathodal electrode to complete the circuit.

Granted this sounds almost like some barbaric Victorian ‘health cure’ but Robert Reinhart and Geoffrey Woodman, the two professors from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, behind the idea are firm in their belief that the ‘thinking cap’ will aid us to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Professor Reinhart said, ‘We wanted to reach into your brain and causally control your inner critic. Also claiming fears of the safety of the experiment, “It’s one of the safest ways to noninvasively stimulate the brain.”

Tests revealed that wearing the cap during an exam helped with working and solving mistakes they had made. Reinhart said, “So when we up-regulate that process, we can make you more cautious, less error-prone, and more adaptable to new or changing situations, which is pretty extraordinary.”

Thinking of the ramifications when and if the tests and research can be revealed to the public has me excited. This could be a way forward for those who have schizophrenia and ADHD, which of course, we would all applaud. Yet I have a little trepidation.

Trepidation you say? Yes; sure to eradicate severe mistakes in life and importantly within the workplace would, of course, curry favour with many, however… what of those mistakes we’ve all made that lead on to something wonderful, the mistakes that buck the norm and conventional way of doing something; what would become of this in the future where conventional thoughts are kept in line by the ‘Thinking Cap’?

History is littered with those ‘happy mistakes’, those eureka moments that have led to success. I’m thinking of Penicillin, which only came about when Sir Alexander Fleming threw away his Petri dish and saw that the mould was killing all of the bacteria. The pacemaker only came about when electrical engineer found that a heart could be started when receiving gentle stimulation.  I could go on…

And lest we forget the humble crisp created by George Crum; looking to make a plate of fried potatoes his customers kept requesting them thinner and crisper and hey presto – the crisp!

So while I welcome progress, we thrive on it here at Comms, I’ll wait to see how well the thinking cap develops and helps future generations.

Until next time…