Tagtranscranial direct current stimulation

The Strange World of DIY Brain Zapping

DIY transcranial direct current stimulation

Wired reports on DIY transcranial direct current stimulation, and why the science behind it might not be all it’s cracked up to be:

It’s a rare thing for a scientist to stand up in front of a roomful of his peers and rip apart a study from his own lab. But that’s exactly what Vincent Walsh did in September at a symposium on brain stimulation at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain. Walsh is a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London, and his lab has done some of the studies that first made a splash in the media. One, published in Current Biology in 2010, found that brain stimulation enhanced people’s ability to learn a new number system based on made-up symbols.

Only it didn’t really.

“It doesn’t show what we said it shows; it doesn’t show what people think it shows,” Walsh said before launching into a dissection of his paper’s flaws. They ranged from the technical (guesswork about whether parts of the brain are being excited or inhibited) to the practical (a modest effect with questionable impact on any actual learning outside the lab). When he finished this devastating critique, he tore into two more studies from other high-profile labs. And the problems aren’t limited to these few papers, Walsh said, they’re endemic in this whole subfield of neuroscience.

Full Story: Wired: Inside the Strange New World of DIY Brain Stimulation

See Also:

Doctors Worry About DIY Brain Shocks

The Next God Helmet? Zap Your Brain for Insight

The Next God Helmet? Zap Your Brain for Insight


Researchers are using transcranial direct current stimulation to stimulate insight:

Remember Michael Persinger and his “God helmet”? A professor at the University of Sydney and his grad student are working on something similar — and while they claim that it can boost certain kinds of creativity, parapsychologists might find it interesting too.

Until the 1990s, the American-born Allan Snyder was an optical physicist, responsible for some of the key insights that led to the modern  telecom network.  He was awarded the Marconi Prize in 2001 (the year before Tim Berners-Lee won it) and is a fellow of the Royal Society.  But for the past fifteen years or so, most of them at the University of Sydney, he’s been studying the process of insight itself.  He seems to have had little funding; most of his publications have been in lower-impact journals; he has compensated by being very media-friendly; and he’s had a fascination with the use of magnetic and electrical currents to alter brain activity — all of which make me think of him as a sort of Michael Persinger 2.0.

Heretical Notions: Persinger 2.0

(via Catvincent)

Interesting stuff. The research paper can be found here.

It’s probably worth mentioning that Persinger’s results have never been replicated.

More on transcranial direct current stimulation.

See also: thalamic stimulation.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Beyond radionics:

It sounds like something you dreamed up in the basement with your stoner friends in high school. (In fact, you may actually have done so.) But transcranial direct current stimulation is the hottest thing to hit the improvisational health management scene since acupuncture. A growing body of evidence suggests that sticking a battery onto your head could hack into your brain’s operating system and make life generally more worth living. Think of it as Norton Utilities for the mind.

That’s not an oversimplification of the process. tDCS is literally that simple. The total cost of a treatment is less than $5 of parts from Radio Shack and a sponge. No prescription needed. No needles, no pills, no insurance companies, no weird hormonal fluctuations, no commercials saying “I’m glad [drug of choice] has a low risk of sexual side effects!”

Full Story: Rotten.com.

(Thanks Dad!)

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