DIY tDCS Start Here

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

  1. Become a tDCS expert in only a few hours! Davis tDCS Summit 9/5/13.
  2. Marom Bikson & Peter Toshev ‘Your Electric Pharmacy‘ (excellent overview/intro).
  3. Marom Bikson Presentation on State of the Art tDCS 8/13.
  4. My podcast interviews – deep dives into tDCS with key players.
  5. tDCS SubReddit is where the action is. Now with tDCS FAQ!
  6. An ‘Open tDCS’ project.
  7. johnboy6785’s Off-the-shelf tDCS setup with links (Reddit)
  8. Dr. Brent Williams’ DIY device and protocol.
  9. Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus
  10. Better Living Through Electrochemistry
  11. Clinical tDCS trials seek volunteers. All. Search. (Example: “tDCS AND Los Angeles”)
  12. Go deep! ATA at Brmlab continues to develop his tDCS page.
  13. Neuroscience: Brain buzz Nature Magazine
  14. DLPFC / F3 Locator (you’ll need a tape measure with Centimeters)
  15. Searchable database of tDCS articles from trans-cranial.com
  16. 10–20 international system

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YOUR ELECTRIC PHARMACY

Emphasis mine on “but over time it will also gradually rewire your neurons to prevent future attacks.” Very interesting considering the source, Marom Bickson. If you’ve been following the pop press on brain plasticity, you’ve certainly heard the phrase: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Could this be a meta-framework for thinking about tDCS?

Head band and controller sourced from CaputronMedical.com

Head band and controller sourced from CaputronMedical.com the green electrode/strap on the right is the Soterix EasyStrap (see below)

Future medications for brain disorders could be delivered through electrodes rather than pills
By Marom Bikson and Peter Toshev

The pharmacist guides you to a shelf of headgear, labeled
with different brain regions. She fits you for a cap, the underside of which features thin conductive metal strips, called electrodes, coated in adhesive gel to stick gently to your scalp.
The electrodes link to a slim cable that dangles from the back of the cap. She then hands over the key component of your prescribed medication: an electric stimulator.
Once a day for the next week you will don the headgear
and plug the cable into this device for a 20-minute dose of
electricity. Setting aside your trepidation, you give it a try in front of the pharmacist. At first you feel only a tingling sensation and then relief.
As you wear the cap, an electric current is traveling from
the electrodes, past hair, scalp and bone, into the brain regions responsible for your migraines. At first it merely blunts the pain, but over time it will also gradually rewire your neurons to prevent future attacks. The pharmacist explains that you will be free to carry on with your day—finish chores, watch television, go for a walk– with the cap on your head, and when the dose is up, the stimulator will simply stop running.
——–
When brain cells activate together, the connections among them grow stronger and more numerous. Cells that seldom fire in concert gradually lose their linkages. Adding tDCS can therefore heighten the brain’s ability to rewire itself—its plasticity.

Source: http://neuralengr.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/samind_2014_11.pdf
See also: Zap Your Brain to Health with an Electrode Cap – Scientific American.
And: Giving the Brain a Buzz: The Ultimate in Self-Help or a Dangerous Distraction?

Soterix Accessories page. (I am not affiliated with Soterix or any other product mentioned on this blog).

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Resting-state networks link invasive and noninvasive brain stimulation across diverse psychiatric and neurological diseases

For years we heard about ‘right brain’ vs. ‘left brain’ thinking. Now that that is turning out to be a myth I’m seeing more and more references to brain networks. And as it applies to tDCS we’re hearing about accessing regions of the brain previously thought to be inaccessible via surface electrodes.
In this excellent research, Michael D. Fox (et al) access entire networks via a single node and beg the question, why Deep Brain Stimulation (a tricky and risky surgical procedure) when we can access the same networks through non-invasive stimulation (tDCS, TMS etc).

In this article, we identify diseases treated with both types of stimulation, list the stimulation sites thought to be most effective in each disease, and test the hypothesis that these sites are different nodes within the same brain network as defined by resting-state functional-connectivity MRI.

In both cases, the effects of stimulation propagate beyond the stimulation site to impact a distributed set of connected brain regions (i.e., a brain network). Given increasing evidence that these network effects are relevant to therapeutic response, it is possible that invasive and noninvasive stimulation of different brain regions actually modify the same brain network to provide therapeutic benefit.

by default 2014-10-11 at 7.22.10 PM

pdf via http://www.tmslab.org/publications/538.pdf

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The Subtle Shock: Fine – Tuning What You Hear | Carolina Alumni Review

One unusually well-designed study, he said, was from the University of Lyon in France, in which 30 people with schizophrenia reported that after TDCS, they heard voices about 30 percent less than before. The researchers followed up with the patients, and the treatment was still working, even after three months.

Frohlich decided that the schizophrenia study was so potentially life-changing for patients that it had to be replicated — and improved upon — as quickly as possible. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 1 percent of Americans have schizophrenia; many of them are too sick to work or even talk lucidly with their doctors about treatment. Antipsychotic medication helps some, but it has serious side effects. A 2013 study estimated that the costs of schizophrenia — from treatment to caregiving and unemployment — are about $4 billion a year in the U.S.

via Carolina Alumni Review – September/October 2014 – carolinalumnireview20140910-1410495196000bc357d2b34-pp.pdf.

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My Thoughts On Thync

When I started this blog in 2012 friends and family thought I was crazy. But I knew something interesting was happening and now that we’re seeing all this VC money flowing into the space it’s obvious something IS happening. Still too early to tell what will become of all this, but a single ‘killer app’ (provable, repeatable, without side-effects) could launch tDCS, or another form of non-invasive brain stimulation, into the mainstream.
I wonder if Thync’s announcement took Halo Neuroscience by surprise (probably not). Considering how simple a tDCS device is to make, it will be interesting to see if add-ons can make individual devices truly patentable – I’m thinking built-in feedback and monitoring etc.
And this on Thync’s About page from Marom Bikson! This is interesting in itself because Dr. Bikson has been critical of efforts to commercialize tDCS in the consumer space (especially the foc.us device, but generally cautious)

“Dr. Jamie Tyler has built an extraordinary team of scientists and engineers at Thync who are creating consumer devices that achieve a level of neuromodulation performance, safety, and ease-of-use that is a categorical advance for the field.”

Looking into the list of scientific publications Thync lists on their site, I would have to conclude that perhaps their focus is more on transcranial pulsed ultrasound (TPU) than tDCS. And look! DARPA has also been funding research in TPU.  [Update: Thync confirmed their first device will be tDCS based.]

Thync ‏@thync
@DIYtDCS Thank you for the inquiry. We have deep knowledge of both. Our first product will be around #tDCS.

Here, from Thync’s website, they lay out the technological foundation of their ‘Vibes’ product.

Founded on decades of research and results using transcranial pulsed ultrasound (tPU), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and other transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) methods, Thync elevates these breakthroughs in neuroscience to a new place in lifestyle technology.

We have developed proprietary neurosignaling waveforms that target neural pathways via a mechanistic triad:
• BRAIN: prefrontal and frontoparietal brain regions
• NERVES: sensory fibers of cranial nerves
• MUSCLE: neuromuscular fibers

And…

A secure Bluetooth Low Energy network enables users to control and tune neurosignaling waveforms to optimize their experience while shifting mindset in a personalized manner.

Aha! From a Business Week article tweeted by Marom Bikson, (implying their device, at least initially is more likely to be tDCS based):

Thync pursued Tyler’s ultrasound techniques for the first year, until the founders learned about studies conducted at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, where researchers had tried to improve pilots’ cognitive abilities with electrical stimulation. Reasoning that the electrical method, with its rapidly improving science, offered a safer, quicker route to the market, Thync switched gears. Since then, the company has worked to shrink the electrodes and develop its algorithms to produce a reliable, comfortable experience.

For the past 18 months, Thync has tested its “vibes” on more than 2,000 people in clinical trials at its Boston office and the City College of New York. Some subjects didn’t respond to the treatment at all—it doesn’t work for everybody—but the company reached a milestone when two out of three respondents started to regularly say the sensations were more powerful than the placebo effect. “Most people rate it as a moderate to strong response,” Goldwasser says of the energy vibe, “or at least as good as a few cups of coffee.”

Prof. Bikson is co-director of Neural Engineering at The City College of New York so it stands to reason he was involved in the testing. When I asked him via Twitter he said:

CCNY completed 90 subject 6-week (5 session per week) trial using Thync and Soterix tech. Exciting details and results coming soon.

Excited to see the results of these tests. Also, as long as we are heading into the consumer space, it’s great to have Dr. Bikson involved.
The product is set to launch in 2015. I’ll be following closely…

Update 10/12/14 Following up on Mika’s observation (see comments)…

P.S. Thync hit it out of the park with the naming of their company/domain/Twitter handle.

 

See Also:
Thync Lets You Give Your Mind a Jolt
Thync’s Wearable Won’t Just Measure Your Mood, It Will Fix It – IEEE Spectrum.
Thync to Launch First Mood-Altering Wearable With $13M Led by Khosla
Thync Has Raised $13M To Change Your Mood With Ultrasound Waves (And Electricity)
Wearable tech to hack your brain | CNNTech 10/23/14

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New clues revealed to understand brain stimulation — ScienceDaily

“We wanted to test the hypothesis that these various stimulation sites are actually different spots within the same brain network,” explains Fox. “To examine the connectivity from any one site to other brain regions, we used a data base of functional MRI images and a technique that enables you to see correlations in spontaneous brain activity.” From these correlations, the investigators were able to create a map of connections from deep brain stimulation sites to the surface of the brain. When they compared this map to sites on the brain surface that work for noninvasive brain stimulation, the two matched.

via New clues revealed to understand brain stimulation — ScienceDaily.

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Vietnam’s Neuroscientific Legacy – The New Yorker

By cataloguing the areas of brain damage in the veterans, and cross-referencing that information with data on their deficits and difficulties, Barbey, Grafman, and their colleagues have been able to map out the neural circuits involved in general intelligenceemotional intelligence, and social problem-solving. They recently discovered that many of the same brain areas—a network of structures in the frontal lobe and parietal cortex—underlie all three of these abilities. Historically, many psychologists have viewed general intelligence as separate from social and emotional intelligence, Barbey said. But these results fit with the more recent view that these skills are intertwined and interrelated. “The brain is not making a strong distinction between these forms of intelligence,” Barbey said.

via Vietnam’s Neuroscientific Legacy – The New Yorker.

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tDCS + Meditation — tDCS and Neurodynamics —A Modern Monk

The first type of meditation I practice is the standard “focus” meditation that is taught on headspace.com, and there are great walk-throughs there. I use tDCS to calm the conscious mind by placing the cathode on FpZ the center of the forehead and the anode at OZ center of the back of the head. I do this montage for 5–10 minutes, then remove the electrodes and meditate, focusing on my breath, for 10–15 minutes. I usually do this in the morning, and afterwards, I usually place the anode at FpZ and cathode on upper left arm and run the current for another 5–10 minutes. I find this is helpful in getting into work mode.

via tDCS + Meditation — tDCS and Neurodynamics — Medium.

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DYI Electro Shock Therapy, Can it Make You Smarter? | Vocativ

I could do without all the electroshock cutaways. Interesting that the same protocol & montage that so improved the Radiolab reporter’s results with the stereograms did nothing for this reporter. The reverse-polartiy montage did however seem to have quite an effect on producer Justin. Both these montages are discussed in my interview with Michael Weisend.

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Experimenting with electricity | Al Jazeera America

Exactly! Erica and Jeff have decided on a self-testing protocol I believe will effectively measure their tDCS results. Dual N-Back (online requires Silverlight) or download Brain Workshop.

By the time you read this there should also be a video interview at the TechKnow site.
Jeff’s (Boinger) Open tDCS: tDCS Regulation Circuits – Open Source Hardware project on GitHub: https://github.com/boinger/tdcs
Jeff’s DIY part list: https://github.com/boinger/tdcs/blob/master/bom.csv
And PCB board: https://github.com/boinger/tdcs/blob/master/board.png
Follow Jeff’s Reddit thread.: http://www.reddit.com/r/tDCS/comments/2hguka/experimenting_with_electricity_interview_from/

TechKnow: How do you plan on measuring your progress with the tDCS headset?
Erica: So I’m using a brain training game called Dual N-Back. So far I’ve tracked my progress with the game without using the tDCS, and I plan to use tDCS, and then practice the game and see how far I can get.
TechKnow: Are you going to record this information? Do you plan on making it available to other people?
Erica: I plan to track the amount of time I’m spending using tDCS and how well I’m performing in the game to see what is correlated.

via Experimenting with electricity | Al Jazeera America.

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