The Madeleine Brand Show for March 8, 2012

A 'shock'-ing new way to get your brain into the zone

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Human brain

While you're reading this, you might also be working, cooking a meal or texting a friend. Your attention is likely split between a few different tasks. That's the opposite of flow, "[a] feeling of effortless concentration that characterises outstanding performance in all kinds of skills."

Scientists have studied professional athletes, master chess players and accomplished musicians and found flow is a real identifiable state of mind. But it usually takes thousands of hours of practice to achieve on a regular basis. But what if there was a short cut?

There's new research that a small electrical current — like a 9v battery — can literally jump-start your brain to better focus and concentration on a task, like that of an expert. Some have even tried to shock themselves with a car battery, hoping for better results. One flow-chaser even became temporarily blind after his self-electrocution attempt.

Guest:

Sally Adee is technology feature editor at New Scientist


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