Honors College Thesis

Transcranial Stimulation for Learning

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  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that modulates neuronal activity through low-intensity electrical currents applied to the scalp. A thorough review of the literature indicates significant potential for tDCS in enhancing learning and cognitive performance, with several studies demonstrating improvements in working memory, numerical processing, and multitasking capabilities. However, there is a notable gap in research that directly simulates classroom experiences, which this thesis aims to address. This study involved 60 healthy college students (17 male and 43 female) randomly assigned to either an active tDCS group or a placebo group. Participants underwent baseline cognitive assessments, watched a video lecture on photosynthesis while receiving tDCS or sham stimulation, and completed post-lecture assessments. The results showed a statistically significant improvement in multiple-choice test performance for the tDCS group, suggesting enhanced cognitive processing and decision-making capabilities. However, no significant differences were found in true/false assessments or working memory tests. These findings highlight the potential of tDCS to enhance complex cognitive tasks in educational settings, although participant comfort and optimal stimulation parameters remain areas for further investigation. The study underscores the need for longitudinal research to assess the long-term effects and sustainability of tDCS-induced cognitive enhancements. This thesis contributes to the broader discourse on the practical and ethical implications of employing tDCS in educational contexts, providing a foundation for future research aimed at optimizing tDCS protocols for cognitive enhancement
  • Key Words: tDCS, transcranial, learning, student, enhancement
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