In the past, someone telling you to "put on your thinking cap" did little more than get your attention. In the future? If Australian researchers can make good, it could mean tripling your complex problem solving powers and opening up whole new avenues of thinking with a very real and physical "thinking cap."
The man leading the pack, Professor Allan Snyder of Sydney University's Centre of the Mind (pictured above), has been working on his thinking cap for nearly a decade now. The thought behind it is that with stimulation, a person's brain functions could be successfully enhanced for a certain period of time.
According to the Australian media, it's a bit like getting hit by lightning:
Urban legends have abounded for decades about people struck by lightning who suddenly acquire the ability to play Brahm's piano concerto, or head-trauma patients suddenly developing artistic abilities they didn't have before.
In many of these cases, brain trauma victims experience a suppression of the left temporal lobe — which, in layman's terms — frees up the right side of the brain to be more creative.
Prof Snyder and Mr Chi's cap artificially manipulates the hemispheres of the brain to recreate the phenomenon.
Of course, Doc Snyder and his team isn't zapping noggins with lighting bolts. Instead, he's exposing his guinea pigs to 10 to 15 minutes of low-level electric pulses that result in an hour whereby participants experience "new modes of thinking." Without the cap, researchers say, folks were only able to solve complex problems 20% of the time. After stimulation? That figure jumped up to 60%.
Snyder calls it "the largest cognitive enhancement we are aware of," though, surprisingly, says that his cap isn't really geared toward making people smarter. Rather, it lets them think in new ways, he says: "It's more of a 'creativity cap.'"