Random Noise: Unlocking Learning Potential


Whenever someone needs to study, the first thing they secure is finding a good place to study, preferably far from any distractions, including noise. However, the ideal location for a particular person may not be the ideal study location for someone else. Some people do not like studying somewhere private or quiet, while there are those who like peace and quiet. Nonetheless, you want to ensure that you study at a location that is conducive to your learning method, allows you to focus, and is free of distractions.

According to the researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU), although most people may seek a quiet place to study, ‘noise’ may play an important role to some people in improving their learning potential. The researchers examined the effects of transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) in various settings and found the technology could have many applications. 

The study showed that tRNS is a promising tool to assist people with compromised learning capabilities. This article will discuss the study’s findings on how ‘noise’ may help improve some individuals’ learning capabilities.

Unlocking New Learning Potential

Transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) refers to a specific form of transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), which is one of several types of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS). It is a non-invasive electrical brain stimulation technique where currents are randomly drawn from a predefined range of intensities and frequencies.

In simple terms, the researchers stated that tRNS doesn’t use noise in the auditory sense of the word. Instead, it sees electrodes attached to the head so a weak current can pass through specific brain parts.

Various types of tES have been used to influence human behavior, and over the last decade, the research interest in tRNS has grown. It is increasingly utilized in studies of human brain function and behavior, health, and disease.

In the ECU study, the researchers looked into how tRNS may help foster improved learning capabilities for certain individuals who have difficulties in learning. The researchers also aimed to provide an overview of the current understanding of the effects of tRNS on the brain and behavior and provide some specific recommendations for future research.

According to the study, tRNS works by allowing the brain to form new connections and pathways, a process known as neuroplasticity. They added that when people are learning something, neuroplastic changes have to occur in the brain, allowing a person to process and learn the information. The research stated that tRNS is a tool that can be utilized to enhance this neuroplasticity.

The researchers stated that tRNS had two effects on the brain: 

  • The acute effect – allowed a person to perform better while undergoing tRNS.
  • The modulating effect – demonstrated lasting results.

They suggested that if you do 10 sessions of a visual perception task with the tRNS and then come back and do it without it, you’ll find you perform better than those who haven’t used it.

In sum, this study on tRNS demonstrated its potential to improve learning, particularly in people with compromised learning abilities. It can be used to speed up learning and help people with neurological conditions and visual deficits due to stroke and traumatic brain injury.

It is also important to note that there is still a lot to explore in the field of tRNS. Although its potential to unlock learning possibilities for people with learning difficulties and deficiencies has been demonstrated, the question of whether it can take the intelligence of neurotypical individuals to new levels remains standing.

Some studies suggest that it does not demonstrate a promising potential to take intelligence to greater heights, but it may help boost learning of new information and concepts.

However, the tRNS technology is still in its infancy, and its access is still limited. Hence, there is still a lot to explore on its practicality, apparent safety, and potential for various applications. With this, the researchers urge further and extensive studies on how this technology may be utilized for other beneficial causes.

Journal Reference

van der Groen, O., Potok, W., Wenderoth, N., Edwards, G., Mattingley, J. B., & Edwards, D. (2022). Using noise for the better: The effects of transcranial random noise stimulation on the brain and behavior. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 138, 104702. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104702 

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