Electric shock treatment can boost learning ability
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) is a process in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, otherwise known as electric shock treatment or therapy.
TDCS is most often used as a treatment for patients with cognitive impairment, usually the result of a stroke or brain injury.
However, following research which was carried out at the University of Oxford, researchers and psychologists now believe that TDCS could help to improve our learning ability and concentration and problem solving functions.
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At a cost of £500 portable devices which administer this electric shock treatment are available to those looking to improve their academic lifestyle.
The researchers from Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology found that the effects usually lasted around 12 months.
“The idea is to stimulate the brain in order to make it easier to learn new information such as maths,” said the leader of the research, Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh.
“What we find with adults is that the improvement is not only in maths but actually in language, attention and decision making – they not only become better for a short time, but for long periods.
“It is not a magic pill like you might find in Hollywood movies, it’s not going to make you Einstein in one day – you still need to work hard – but together with that it makes an enhancement to your performance.”
Although the team behind the study are confident there are no negative side effects from TDCS, it has attracted some criticism from health experts.
On area of concern is the fact that the TDCS machines are available to buy and use privately, meaning their use will not be regulated.
It is thought misuse of the electric shock therapy equipment could cause some brain damage.
Despite this, the researchers have stated in their report that TDCS should only be used to their recommended guidelines.
Writing in the journal of Current Biology, they said: “When used within suggested guidelines, the acute safety risks (of seizures, for example) seem very low.”
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Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”