Chapter 4 - Changing Brain Activity, Increasing Intelligence: Transcranial Electrical and Magnetic Stimulation
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AbstractThe “Nürnberger Trichter”—a magic funnel used to pour knowledge, expertise, and wisdom into students—demonstrates that the idea of effortless learning and the power of intelligence was “cool” even 500 years ago. Noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) that involves transcranial direct and alternating current stimulation (tDCS and tACS), as well as random noise (tRNS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), could be regarded as a contemporary replacement for the magic funnel. Currently these methods are not used to boost intelligence, but are regarded as an additional tool that can verify and bring causation into the relations between brain activity and cognition discovered with neuroimaging. Modulating brain plasticity with NIBS, and by this changing network dynamics crucial for intelligent behavior, is a powerful research tool that can elucidate the neurobiological background of intelligence. However, the mechanisms that contribute to the observed NIBS effects during and after stimulation are far from understood at the moment. Even though NIBS presents a promising approach, it is still at the beginning of its development, and time will show whether these methods can serve to explore basic questions in cognition related to brain activity.

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