Get Regular Updates!
|Could ‘random noise’ supercharge your brain?



Getty Images

Could ‘random noise’ supercharge your brain?

Could ‘random noise’ supercharge your brain?

Applying a weak electrical current to your brain could speed up learning and help people with neurological conditions.

Could ‘random noise’ supercharge your brain?

The technique is called transcranial random noise stimulation. But it doesn’t use noise in the traditional sense.

Instead, researchers attach electrodes to the head so a weak current can pass through specific parts of the brain.

Dr Onno van der Groen is an ECU research fellow who recently wrote a paper on the effects of transcranial random noise stimulation.

“Most people don’t feel it,” says Onno. “If they [do] feel it, it might feel like a bit of itching or tingling.”

The ‘random’ part of the name comes from the mix of different frequencies applied to the brain.




Onno says transcranial random noise stimulation can be used to enhance human performance.

The technology has shown promising signs for improving the learning abilities in both healthy subjects and those with learning difficulties.


It’s also been shown to boost learning in people with neurological injuries acquired through events such as a stroke.

“Potentially, it could be used for neurological conditions … or maybe autism or ADHD,” says Onno.


Scientists aren’t certain exactly how transcranial random noise stimulation works, but there are a few theories.

During his PhD, Onno tested transcranial random noise stimulation in a lab in Switzerland. And according to him, the method makes parts of the brain more responsive.

“One idea is that, if you make one brain area more responsive, this can have an influence on the rest of the brain as well,” says Onno.

“For cognitive tasks, for example, we don’t use single brain areas.

“The general idea now is that there’s different brain areas that have to communicate with each other.

“So if we make one of these communication hubs more responsive, then we can have a wider effect on the cognitive function.”

According to Onno, if the method is used over a long period of time, neuroplastic changes can occur with the brain forming new connections.


Onno is seeking funding to better tailor transcranial random noise stimulation to individuals.

He likens it to a visit to the gym. We all need different brain training programs in the same the way we all need different gym routines based on our fitness levels.

In fact, the effect of brain stimulations can depend on our anatomy.

“For example, some people might have a bit of a thicker skull, which would mean that you need to get the intensity a bit higher to go through,” he says.

“Also, everybody has a brain, but [they] all look slightly different.

“They’re not perfectly the same, which might affect current flow, and it might affect the end result or the intensity that you need to make any changes.”


Getting this balance right is crucial to optimising the technique – and how far we can go in the quest for super brains.


Onno says there’s an upper limit to how much we can drive the brain with this kind of technology. So it’s unlikely for people to suddenly acquire super brains.

“There’s always a balance between how excitable and how much inhibition there is in the brain in order to not go into, for example, epilepsy,” he says.

“There will always be some optimal state.”

Particle Puns


Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.


You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.


Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.


All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.


For more information about using our content, email us:

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?