Stimulating the brain with a very low electric current can enhance a person’s mathematics ability for up to six months, British neuroscientists said last week.

Researchers at Britain’s Oxford University studied 15 volunteers and demonstrated for the first time that electrical stimulation of the brain improved their performance in a series of math assessments — and continued to do so half a year later.

“We’re not advising people to go around giving themselves electric shocks, but we are extremely excited by the potential of our findings and are now looking into the underlying brain changes,” said Oxford’s Cohen Kadosh, who led the study. “Electrical stimulation is unlikely to turn you into the next Einstein, but if we’re lucky it might ... help some people to cope better with maths.”

For this study, 15 student volunteers aged 20 and 21 were taught symbols that represented different numerical values and then timed to see how quickly and accurately they could complete a series of maths puzzles based on those symbols.

The teaching took place over six days and each day the volunteers were given either a placebo or a one milliamp electrical stimulus from right to left, or vice versa, across the parietal lobe — a brain area important for processing math.