DIY tDCS Start Here

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New to DIYtDCS? This is the ‘start here’ collection of articles and posts.

  1. DIYtDCS Feed, all articles http://www.diytdcs.com/feed/
  2. Recommended device? (promo code ‘diytdcs’ for generous discount)
  3. Is this (tDCS for depression in pregnancy) the first ‘killer app’?
  4. Become a tDCS expert in only a few hours! Davis tDCS Summit 9/5/13.
  5. Marom Bikson & Peter Toshev ‘Your Electric Pharmacy‘ (excellent overview/intro).
  6. Marom Bikson Presentation on State of the Art tDCS 8/13.
  7. My podcast interviews – deep dives into tDCS with key players (iTunes link)
  8. tDCS SubReddit is where the action is. Now with tDCS FAQ!
  9. An ‘Open tDCS’ project.
  10. Dr. Brent Williams’ DIY device and protocol.
  11. Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus
  12. Better Living Through Electrochemistry
  13. Clinical tDCS trials seek volunteers. All. Search. (Example: “tDCS AND Los Angeles”)
  14. Go deep! ATA at Brmlab continues to develop his tDCS page.
  15. Neuroscience: Brain buzz Nature Magazine
  16. DLPFC / F3 Locator (you’ll need a tape measure with Centimeters)
  17. Searchable database of tDCS articles from trans-cranial.com
  18. 10–20 international system
  19. Kadosh The Stimulated Brain: Cognitive Enhancement Using NIBS

Robin Azzam of Caputron Medical – DIYtDCS Podcast #5

[Did you just pop back for the Caputron promo code? It’s ‘diytdcs’ without the quotes.]

Robin Azzam is the founder of Caputron Medical. While pursuing a Masters in medical engineering at New York City College, Robin realized there was a need in the research community for a place to source brain stimulation supplies. Shortly after leaving a position in product development at Soterix Medical, Robin and a few friends set up Caputron with the intention of becoming a ‘one stop shop’ for all things related to brain stimulation. His time at Soterix, working alongside Marom Bikson, led to the sort of relationships that allowed Caputron to become a distributor for high-end products like Soterix HD-tDCS and Neurosoft’s TMS devices. But Caputron also began to carry a large selection of electrodes, cables, straps and stimulation-related accessories. Caputron is now developing their own products, and hope to have their own research-grade home DC current device on the market by the end of the year. They recently began selling their mindGear device which I will cover in detail in the near future.caputron-ionto-starter-kit-features

What DIYtDCS readers will likely find most exciting is Caputron’s ActivaDose II Starter Kit. This is the FDA cleared iontopheresis device widely used ‘off label’ for tDCS. It is the device used by two of my previous podcast guests, Dr. Jim Fugedy (for treating depression) and, (at the time) Michael Weisend for research. But Caputron has customized the included accessory package making it tDCS-friendly right out of the box.

In the three years I’ve been running the blog I’ve not previously felt comfortable recommending any specific tDCS device (mostly due to my own ignorance of electronics). I’ve either had doubts about the device itself or not had confidence in the vendor’s customer support. But based on my own experience with the ActivaDose products, the fact that it’s an ‘FDA cleared’ device, and also that it’s coming from Robin and his team, I feel, finally, that we have a product/vendor you could recommend your Mother to. (Assuming she does her homework!)

To that extent, I asked for, and Robin agreed to, a discount on all Caputron products for DIYtDCS readers. Simply plug the promo code ‘diytdcs’ (without quotation marks) into the Voucher window at checkout for a generous discount.

Here’s our interview. Your feedback is welcomed!

activadose-product-page

Note: The ActivaDose II has a max output of 4.0 mA which, as you know if you’ve done your homework, is twice as much as is typically used in tDCS research.

Bring On The Neuro-Revolution!

Not tDCS, but fascinating. Greg Gage @phineasgreg of BackyardBrains demonstrating a device that allowed one person to control the arm of another. I especially like his closing remarks,

This is what’s happening all across the world, electrophysiology, bring on the neuro-revolution.

See Also: Are you thinking what I’m thinking? The rise of mind control
The neuro-revolution is coming: Greg Gage’s neuroscience kits put research in the hands of the curious

 

Making people smarter through brain stimulation | UNM

Following up on Vincent Clark at UNM, working on the IARPA-funded SHARP project.

The current researchers use has a few effects including increasing chemicals in the brain that help humans encode memories. As those chemicals increase, people find it easier to learn new things. Another effect involves the applied current, which seems to alter attention so that people can attend to what they’re doing better; they can pay more attention to the task at hand.

When the researchers gave people tDCS, their score went up faster. An examination of the difference before and after shows a score that goes up about 14 percent without tDCS. With full tDCS, the score goes up about 27 percent. If they wait an hour and test again, and compare no tDCS with full tDCS, it goes up even more.

Source: Making people smarter through brain stimulation

“Unfocus” on foc.us study (was…) Widely available brain training device could impair memory: study

[Update 8/30 Getting a little bit into the weeds here, but having put some time/thought into this r/tDCS thread reply I thought to post it here too to further clarify my issues with the study.]

I’m not sure why you call it ‘the standard foc.us montage’. The v1 montage was a bad choice, they recognized that and moved on. What would you say about the foc.us product as presented on their website now? Fregni’s study isn’t what I’d hope for in a study either. Maybe this ‘Unfocus’ study should have confirmed Fregni’s results using their testing protocol with a ‘medical tDCS apparatus’ before finding that the foc.us v1 device ‘impairs working memory’. In the study, they state:

In this study, we tested whether the commercial transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) headset foc.us improves cognitive performance, as advertised in the media.

But in another interview (translated) she states:

Reuning: The company that sells this device, thus claiming that it improves working memory. Is that correct? Steenbergen: Well, at least for the new version of the device they advertise on their website. The version we tested is intended to improve performance in computer games, according to the manufacturer.

Did foc.us ever state that the v1 ‘improved working memory’? I don’t think so. Here’s what I think this whole study is really about (again, translated from the same article):

…Of the medical equipment we know that they are safe. We know which regulations need to be followed if one wants to use them. But for the non-prescription devices there are no such provisions.

And yes, totally agree that all sorts of claims are being made. It’s a challenge to parse out good science, especially now that VC and DARPA money are coming into brain stimulation. Not to mention claims made by manufacturers of devices. But all that keeps it interesting and fun actually.

I would have been completely okay with this just being another bad tDCS study if it wasn’t so blatant a hatchet job on foc.us and the diy community in general.

[Update 8/28]

“Unfocus” on foc.us study – Our Response
For the record – the original foc.us gamer was tested and CE certified by an independent UK based Notified Body to standards EN60601-1:2006 and EN60601-2-10:2000.
It was the first CE certified consumer tDCS device. As far as we are aware, foc.us remains the only CE certified consumer tDCS device available today.

We welcome researchers who want to test our claims, especially independent 3rd parties who do it without telling us. But we find ourselves disagreeing with the facts presented and thus conclusions of this report.

Michael Oxley
foc.us co-founder

Source: “Unfocus” on foc.us study – Our Response

[Update 8/19] Noticed that Thync’s Jamie Tyler had this to say…

[Update 8/20] Have been in touch with study author Laura Steenbergen who cleared up my question about which version of the Foc.us device/software was used in the study:

We performed this study in August/September 2014, which was before the V2 headset or software were available or even announced. Hence, we used the software that belonged with the V1 apparatus (which by then was not even available for android yet ;)). Publication of scientific data is a long process, which is one of the reasons we repeatedly state that these findings only apply to V1 (we have no knowledge about V2). Confusingly, some media websites post a picture of the V2 foc.us with our findings… But that is beyond my control… I hope this clarifies the situation.. Best, Laura Steenbergen

Of course in the context of there only being one Focus device at the time, their use of the term ‘device’ would imply the entire contents of the box they received. There were no v2 headsets at the time they conducted the research. It’s my awareness of subsequent product developments that confused my initial impression. That plus the fact that the media are denigrating Focus for a product that doesn’t exist based on research that happened over a year ago.

Confused about this study… They tested the Foc.us v1 headset with the Foc.us v2 software. Then declare the device “…cannot be regarded as an alternative to CE-certified tDCS devices, the use of which has been demonstrated to be successful in promoting WM.” But the v1 headset has been controversial since Foc.us first released it! And having v2 of the app/software would imply that they made the choice not to use the newer headset (which follows a more common montage protocol). Anyway… it got published, and we’re talking about it and the buzz gremlins put their spin on it and spread it hither and yon.

In the current study, psychologists from the Netherlands worked with 24 healthy participants, attaching tDCS electrodes to their foreheads as recommended for stimulating the cortex. They used a commercial tDCS headset called “foc. us” that offers gamified and non-gamified stimulation and claims it can increase athletic endurance in addition to cognition. Participants visited the laboratory two times and were each given — unbeknownst to them — both a real stimulation session and a placebo-like service.

Source: Widely available brain training device could impair memory: study – Yahoo News
Reddit discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/tDCS/comments/3hbe3s/impaired_memory_with_focus/
Paper: “Unfocus” on foc.us : commercial tDCS headset impairs working memory

Any other type of sensory stimulation (incl different sham) could have produced same weak effects on WM #junk #tDCS http://nws.mx/1gU30dI
@sciencelaer thx read it yesterday – lights, tones, etc really could have produced same minimal WM differences – so much junk tDCS research

The innovators: the cloth cap that treats the brain | The Guardian

Neuroelectrics founder Ana Maiques . Photograph: Handout

Neuroelectrics founder Ana Maiques . Photograph: Handout

Treatment is achieved by sending a low electrical current to the area of the brain in question via the electrodes for about 20 minutes, repeated over a number of sessions. Apart from a 15-second itching sensation, Maiques says that patients do not feel anything during the process. By exciting the neurons with the current, it has a positive effect on the rehabilitation of people with strokes in combination with physical therapy.

“You are artificially helping the brain to get more excited and more dynamic doing that task,” Maiques says. “Studies show that if you do this in combination with other therapies you have more of an effect. In a sense you are teaching the brain to behave in a different way. And then it is learning that behaviour.”

Source: The innovators: the cloth cap that treats the brain
Naysayer follow-up: A cap that treats depression? Check the science before getting excited

Solid Advice on Selecting foc.us tDCS and Accessories | SpeakWisdom

Brent Williams of SpeakWisdom shares his thoughts on the Foc.us v2 device along with his recommendations for electrodes.

The V2 Brain Stimulation Device

First, you will need a foc.us V2 stimulator device. They currently sell for about $199 and with current firmware are far beyond any of their competition in terms of versatility, capability, portability, etc. I won’t take time here to list all of the MANY things the V2 can do, but suffice it to say that manufacturers of “professional grade” tDCS, tACS, etc. equipment are probably nervous about where foc.us is driving prices and capabilities! In my opinion, the V2 is THE brain stimulation device to buy at its price point.

Source: Solid Advice on Selecting foc.us tDCS and Accessories

What is tDCS? – Improving Visual Memory | Neural Engineering Group

[Note (updated 8/9/15): Alex is using a research version of the mindGear device. The device as available to the general public does not include a tDCS program.]

The folks at the Neural Engineering Group (associated with Marom Bikson’s NY City College Neural Engineering Lab) are producing a series on tDCS. Here is their first episode!

My Notes: Could you force an action potential with tDCS? (TMS does)
Visual memory improved by non-invasive brain stimulation (paywall)
Richard P. Chi, Felipe Fregni, Allan W. Snyder
Dosage: mA x time, i.e. 30 mA minutes could be 1.5mA for 20 minutes.
Memory improvement montage: Anode between T8 & FT8, Cathode between T7 & FT7

This Device Can Zap Your Brain Into A State Of Zen. Is That A Good Thing? | Huff Post

The device did seem to work on some level. For 15 minutes, I experienced a light pressure on the side of my forehead while the electrodes delivered pulses. Toward the end of the session and for about an hour afterward, my brain was definitely down a notch. However, I wouldn’t describe the feeling as zen so much as vaguely stoned. This is apparently not unusual, as one of the company’s publicity reps, Mark de la Vina, told me that it makes a small percentage of users feel high. I felt a pleasant, light floatiness and noticed myself typing and speaking more slowly.

The sensation was something I could definitely get used to — although I won’t be swapping out my meditation practice for a vibe session anytime soon.

“People seek to relax … in different ways,” said Dr. Judy Iles, a University of British Columbia neuroethicist. “But why it is better or safer than exercise, meditation or fresh air or other healthy lifestyle behaviors is not evident.”

The bottom line? Early adopters are essentially part of an experiment. Casual users might replace the evening cocktail with an occasional zap, but until more research is done, you’d be wise to think twice before replacing your morning coffee with a jolt to the head.

Source: This Device Can Zap Your Brain Into A State Of Zen. Is That A Good Thing?

It don’t mean a thing if the brain ain’t got that swing | UC Berkeley News

Not tDCS but these are certainly exciting times. Some breakthroughs heading our way.  Paper: Oscillatory dynamics coordinating human frontal networks in support of goal maintenance [Paywall]

The anterior (blue) and posterior (orange) regions of the prefrontal cortex sync up to communicate cognitive goals to one another. (Image courtesy of Bradley Voytek)

Voytek and fellow researchers at UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute measured electrical activity in the brains of cognitively healthy epilepsy patients. They found that, as the mental exercises became more demanding, theta waves at 4-8 Hertz or cycles per second synchronized within the brain’s frontal lobe, enabling it to connect with other brain regions, such as the motor cortex.
“In these brief moments of synchronization, quick communication occurs as the neurons between brain regions lock into these frequencies, and this measure is critical in a variety of disorders,” said Voytek, an assistant professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego who conducted the study as a postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience at UC Berkeley.

Source: It don’t mean a thing if the brain ain’t got that swing | UC Berkeley News
See Also: voyteklab.com

Timed starts in foc.us firmware 2.1

Impressive! Foc.us has just released a software upgrade that will allow replication of the lucid dreaming protocol outlined in a recent study called, “Induction of self awareness in dreams through frontal low current stimulation of gamma activity“. It will be some weeks before we start to hear back from users, but you have to hand it to Foc.us for keeping their ears open to what ‘the community‘ is interested in.

foc.us firmware 2.1

Timing is everything.
Now if you update your foc.us v2 with the new 2.1 firmware you can set your stimulation to start in the future. Why? To sleep, per chance to dream.

It seems many of you are trying to recreate the Voss, Nitsche 2014 Lucid Dreaming paper published in Nature. So we have created a program with the settings and a timer for you to set based on your sleep pattern. You will still need to estimate when you will be in REM but the program has a 10 min window for you to aim at.

Source: timed starts in foc.us firmware 2.1

More Thoughts on Thync

Just because it’s come up quite a bit lately on the tDCS subReddit , I thought to re-publish this link to a talk Jamie Tyler gave just prior to the release of their device, where he explains his understanding of what’s going on, as well as their intentions. Jamie’s intro starts at 45:46. He begins his explanation of how Thync’s device works at 52:46.

Thync paper referenced in talk: http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2015/06/03/015032
Thync patent application: https://www.google.com/patents/US20140148872?dq=thync

(My Notes: FDA, ‘limited output’, exempt from pre-market notification, or 510 k process. Below average current of 10mA, current density below 2mA per square centimeter.)