Don't try this at home (or school): A tiny, imperceptible electrical current applied to a certain part of the brain seems to improve numerical skills, the BBC reports. Researchers exploring the brain's parietal lobe found that running such a current across the lobe increased people's ability to complete a puzzle that involved substituting numbers for symbols. (Running the current in the opposite direction actually made people worse at the puzzles.)
While improving general math ability is far off, the study suggests more immediate help could be available for sufferers of dyscalculia, a condition similar to dyslexia, but with numbers. "We are not advising people to go around giving themselves electric shocks,” says the lead researcher, "but we are extremely excited by the potential of our findings and are now looking into the underlying brain changes."