DIY tDCS Start Here


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

  1. DIYtDCS Feed, all articles
  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
  18. 10–20 international system
  19. Kadosh The Stimulated Brain: Cognitive Enhancement Using NIBS

Our Results Suggest That The Human Brain Resembles A Flock Of Birds

Indirectly related to tDCS but a fascinating new paper attempts to understand how the frontal cortex is responsible for cognitive control.

“Surprisingly,” Bassett said, “our results suggest that the human brain resembles a flock of birds. The flock comes to a consensus about which way to fly based on how close the birds are to one another and in what formation. Birds that fly at specific places in the flock can drive changes in the flock’s direction, being leaders in a so-called multi-agent system.
“We’re very interested in controlling brain networks with techniques like optogenetics, transcranial magnetic or direct-current stimulation, deep brain stimulation or even neurofeedback,” Bassett said, “but the problem has been that there is little theoretical basis to determine how these stimulations affect the dynamics of the whole brain. In most cases, stimulation is applied via trial and error. This research helps to build up an understanding of the impact of stimulation in one region on cognition as a whole.”

Future research will test whether “wiring” differences between people predict their performance on cognitive tasks. It will also underpin work on therapeutic and adaptive technologies that capitalize on brain networks’ unique advantages over their computerized counterparts.

Article: Penn, University of California and Army Research Lab Show How Brain’s Wiring Leads to Cognitive Control
Paper: Controllability of structural brain networks

tDCS And Mindfulness

At 20:40 Katie Witkiewitz begins discussing the use of tDCS as a tool for enhancing mindfulness training. Her work is mostly focused around addiction and recovery. She compares her own experience of using tDCS-assisted meditation to day 4 of a multi-day meditation retreat. They are using the anode F10 / cathode left shoulder (“Where’s Waldo” DARPA research) montage. There’s a shot of what she calls the ‘octa box’ which seems to be distributing current from a single ActivaDose device to 8 sets of electrodes for ‘group mindfulness training’ (but I could be wrong). Could tDCS enhance your meditation? Provide that extra bit of calming the chatter? She goes on to say that (including her own personal experience) the montage ‘inhibits verbal ability’ and that trying to lead a guided meditation while stimulating F-10 gave her ‘the worst headache’.


Can this electric helmet boost your brain power? | Daily Mail

We met Ana Maiques, the co-founder of Neuroelectrics, maker of StarStim, in our first podcast. It should be pointed out that StarStim is a research-grade tDCS/EEG device that includes a powerful suite of software. In fact it’s not available to the general public.

Spanish research student, Azahara De La Vega Fernandez (pictured with Brian) is investigating under psychology lecturer Nick Davies how brain stimulation can be used to improve sporting ability Photo: Alistair Heap

Spanish research student, Azahara De La Vega Fernandez (pictured with Brian) is investigating under psychology lecturer Nick Davies how brain stimulation can be used to improve sporting ability Photo: Alistair Heap

She invited me to throw ten darts before being brain-hacked, and ten darts after.
And, while the current was gently sizzling through me, she played me a tape in which a man calmly talked me into picturing how brilliantly I was going to throw those arrows.
There is no point undergoing tDCS if you’re not already mentally focused.
Davis compares it with a weightlifter taking steroids. ‘If he takes them without pumping iron, they won’t give him bigger muscles,’ he says.
He also summons the example of Andy Murray going back to his chair between games, and replaying in his mind the shots he has just played, as well as imagining himself walking up to the net as the eventual winner.
It’s called visualisation, and all modern sportsmen and women are encouraged to do it.
Davis thinks that tDCS could help them do it better, sharpening that mental imagery. That’s why he’s experimenting on people like me.
First I needed to put my thinking cap on. This is the StarStim, a rubber hat with electrodes dangling from it.
Made in Barcelona, it costs £7,000.

Read more:

Mind over matter: Ultrarunner Dean Karnazes’s brain-training device | Sports Illustrated

Thync works by pulsing small electrical currents, no more than about 20 milliamps, through nerves on the head. A sticky strip of electrodes attaches to places where nerves run close to the skin above the right eyebrow, behind the ear, and on the back of the neck. A small triangular device connects above the eyebrow, and sends electrical pulses out through the electrode strip. According to Jamie Tyler, Thync’s CSO and other co-founder, the effect of pulsing currents along these nerves is to modulate norepinephrine production in the brainstem at the back of the head. The device has two main modes—called “vibes” in Thync-speak—calm and energy. The difference between these two is that energy increases the release of norepinephrine, increasing alertness, whereas calm decreases it.

Would you let someone zap your brain? Why ‘electronic brain stimulation’ is trending | LA Times

Despite thousands of studies, there remain many mysteries. Most studies involve extremely short experiments with few participants, and they often assess results after just a single session, using very specific tasks. That means results are not generally applicable to real-life situations or to all people. And nobody knows what the consequences might be of frequent use for long periods of time, which is how many people would like to use tDCS.

There is plenty of optimism that tDCS will eventually have real, even transformative applications. But that time does has not come. “At the moment, I don’t know about any protocol or device for which we could really say you could use for gaming or everyday tasks and it would improve performance and there would be no risks with it,” Nitsche says. “My advice would be to be cautious.”

Would you let someone zap your brain? Why ‘electronic brain stimulation’ is trending

Hawaii BrainSTIM Meeting 2015 Videos

[Are you an ‘audio person’? Download complete Hawaii BrainSTIM Meeting presentations as mp3s]
Revisiting this post from a few months ago because as I slowly wade through these state-of-the-art brain stimulation presentations from the leading scientists in the field, I’m discovering a lot of new information that is not generally known or being discussed. For example, in this talk ‘BrainSTIM2015 – Physiology and functional effects of tDCS and related techniques’, Michael Nitsche explores why 1mA may be a better dosage choice and also how a second session of tDCS 30 minutes after the first may lead to increased plasticity effects.

Vince Clark has just published video presentations from the recent BrainSTIM conference.
This is a real treasure trove of state-of-the-art tDCS and brain stimulation information.
Presenters: Vince Clark, Giulio Ruffini, Marom Bikson, Peter Bandettini, Michael Nitsche, Katie Witkiewitz, Peter Fox, Luke Torre-Healy, Erika Ross, Mayank Jog, Abbas Babajani-Feremi, Alexander Opitz, Mark Lowe, Hiroyuki Oya, Felipe Salinas, Shalini Narayana, Branislava Curcic-Blake, Franca Tecchio, Yuranny Cabral-Calderin.

tDCS seasickness treatment on the horizon | Imperial College London

We previously showed that application of transcranial direct
current stimulation (tDCS), specifically unipolar
cathodal stimulation over the left parietal cortex,
results in suppression of the vestibular system.
Herein, we assessed whether such suppression of ves-
tibular activity using tDCS in normal controls may
alleviate motion sickness.

Press: Highly effective seasickness treatment on the horizon
Paper (Open): Electrocortical therapy for motion sickness

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!


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.

Non-invasive Human Brain Stimulation in Cognitive Neuroscience: A Primer | Neuron


Effect of tDCS Current on Single-Pulse MEP (motor evoked potentials) Amplitudes This figure taken from Batsikadze et al. (2013)) shows that the “classic” inhibitory profile of 1 mA of cathodal DC stimulation is reversed when intensity is increased to 2 mA.

The Effects of tDCS Polarity. One of the features of the literature in tDCS cognitive studies is the implicit assumption that anodal stimulation is always excitatory and cathodal stimulation is always inhibitory (see Horvath et al., 2015a). Bestmann et al. (2015)) have given a detailed account of why this cannot be the case. It is broadly true that polarity-dependent tDCS changes are directional; however, the effects are not uniform under the electrodes (Batsikadze et al., 2013) and interactions with different cell morphologies and cortical surface shapes create inhomogeneities that in turn change the net effects of stimulation (Bestmann et al., 2015). This is one reason to approach the link between assumed physiology and behavioral effects with caution. It is an important message of this Primer that the field needs to stop making naive one-to-one links between polarity and behavior.

Source: Non-invasive Human Brain Stimulation in Cognitive Neuroscience: A Primer: Neuron

FDA Public Workshop – Neurodiagnostics and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Medical Devices Workshop, November 19-20, 2015

The focus of the second day of the workshop will be non-invasive brain stimulation medical devices, which are medical devices that are intended to improve, affect, or otherwise modify the cognitive function of a normal individual (i.e., without a treatment objective) by means of non-invasive electrical or electromagnetic stimulation to the head. The purpose of this workshop is to obtain public input and feedback on scientific, clinical, and regulatory considerations associated with medical devices for assessing and influencing cognitive function.

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

[Update 9/3] Because the tweets just keep on tweeting!

Study author Laura Steenbergen:

We performed this study in August/September 2014, which was before the V2 headset or software were available or even announced.

The study states:

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

In fact, at the time the study took place, using the Focus v1 device, the (June 25, 2014) website stated:

Stronger, faster, quicker

Excite your prefrontal cortex and get the edge in online gaming


[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 montage’. The v1 montage was a bad choice, they recognized that and moved on. What would you say about the 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 v1 device ‘impairs working memory’. In the study, they state:

In this study, we tested whether the commercial transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) headset 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 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 and the diy community in general.

[Update 8/28]

“Unfocus” on study – Our Response
For the record – the original 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, 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 co-founder

Source: “Unfocus” on 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 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 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 v1 headset with the 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 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:
Paper: “Unfocus” on : 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
@sciencelaer thx read it yesterday – lights, tones, etc really could have produced same minimal WM differences – so much junk 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