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. Cognitive Enhancement with Noninvasive Brain Stimulation (video) Roy Hamilton MD
  5. Become a tDCS expert in only a few hours! Davis tDCS Summit 9/5/13.
  6. Marom Bikson & Peter Toshev ‘Your Electric Pharmacy‘ (excellent overview/intro).
  7. Marom Bikson Presentation on State of the Art tDCS 8/13.
  8. My podcast interviews – deep dives into tDCS with key players (iTunes link)
  9. tDCS SubReddit is where the action is. Now with tDCS FAQ!
  10. An ‘Open tDCS’ project.
  11. Dr. Brent Williams’ DIY device and protocol.
  12. Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus
  13. Better Living Through Electrochemistry
  14. Clinical tDCS trials seek volunteers. All. Search. (Example: “tDCS AND Los Angeles”)
  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

A Tool For The Mind | Marom Bikson | TEDxBushwick

This is my optimistic (hopeful) look forward; one day soon, we will have “Tools for the Mind” (TEDx) that we can use to better ourselves. Certainly we need more research and the technology is early stage, but with something so transformative, the time to discuss its implications to society is now. I mention those issues as a call to action. Pay close attention for a sneak peak image at one technology thats exists today ‪#‎wearable‬-medicine

 

LucidCatcher – tACS Lucid Dreaming Device

Luciding is now taking pre-orders for the LucidCatcher. (Lots more on this site about lucid dreaming). Like much of the tDCS research, studies report conflicting results using tACS to induce lucid dreaming. Note that Foc.us has had a 40 Hz tACS mode built into their V2 device and also has a lucid dreaming kit. It’s been out long enough now that I would think that widespread success with using it to induce lucid dreams would have been widely reported. The LucidCatcher does come in a form factor optimized for sleeping. I’m curious to know more about the unusual electrode setup.

tdcsLucidCatcher

How does it work?

We typically see the dreams during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase. The device detects your REM and pushes mild electric impulses to the prefrontal cortex at a frequency of 40 Hz. It brings the logical brain back into service and makes you realize that you must be in a dream.

You’ll recognize the dream by millions of different signs that contradicts the reality because your consciousness evokes.

See also: Today in crazy cool: You can use this headband to control your dreams

Not Quite A Take Apart – Nathan Looks At The Thync Device

I was happy to lend Nathan my Thync. I knew he’d get to the bottom of what exactly was going on. Especially in the context of exploring TES, pulsed wave forms and some of the older technologies I’d recently been made aware of in my interview with Anna Wexler, I knew the Thync device would represent the state of the art. Jamie Tyler had arranged for me to have one, most likely in my capacity as a blogger and reporter of all things related to neurostimulation. I myself did not experience any significant effects using the Thync though I did find myself using it frequently – mostly the Calm vibe. Was there some effect lying just below consciousness that my body was reacting to? Certainly nothing like the experience Manoush Zomorodi had trying Thync for her podcast episode Forget Edibles: Getting High on Wearables (really a must hear).

Check out Nathan’s full analysis of the Thync device. The Science and Technology Behind Thync’s Brain(?) Stimulator

tdcsNathanThyncRecording

Caputron Now Carrying Focus GoFlow Starter Kit

Caputron will be handling all Customer Support on GoFlow devices purchased through their site. At this time they have over 100 units in stock. If you’re not familiar with Caputron please check out my interview with founder Robin Azzam. Caputron has extended their discount to DIYtDCS readers for all products on their site, including the GoFlow. Use voucher code ‘diytdcs’ (without the quotation marks) for a generous discount.

New Go Flow Pro package.

New Go Flow Pro package.

 

Focus Posts ‘Before You Get Started’ Page For DIYers

tdcs20160512-2Focustry-tdcs-largeFocus has posted a new page on their site which directs new users to show caution in their use of DIY tDCS. Focus goes so far as to caution people under the age of 18 not to try it.

If you are under 18 you should stop here. tDCS is not suitable for children and should not be used. This is because your brain is still developing and you don’t need to mess with its neuroplasticity.

The page goes on to list the known risks and a few benefits. Interestingly, it does not mention depression. I would have to imagine due to the possibility of crossing that nebulous regulatory line around ‘medical devices’.

Focus is, as I understand it, in the midst of fulfilling orders for their GoFlow device. You can read a full review of the GoFlow on SpeakWisdom, the (primarily) tDCS-related site authored by Dr. Brent Williams. Go Flow Pro, Nice Brain Stimulation Kit! 

New Go Flow Pro package.

New Go Flow Pro package.

 

A Look At Memory 2016

Memory has always fascinated me and it’s thrilling to be alive at a time when breakthroughs in our understanding of memory are happening so frequently. I had never heard of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory before catching a recent (this will slip behind a paywall in a week or so) This American Life episode that features Jill Price discussing how having the extremely rare condition, HSAM for short, has left her ruminating over her husbands passing for years. (More about Jill Price from 60 Minutes Australia here).

As someone who has journaled for most of my adult life the idea of being able to recall every single day in vivid detail seemed thrilling and I wondered if Jill Price’s experience was the norm among people with HSAM. That led to these 60 Minute pieces. The first two are from 2010.


After the show aired, hundreds of people contacted Dr. James McGaugh including the family of 10 year old Jake Hausler who also has HSAM. Scientists at Washington University are working with Jake to try to understand how it’s done.

And finally, this NOVA piece on memory has an update on the Jake Hausler research, and also delves into a wide variety of cutting edge memory research.

Self-Administered Domiciliary tDCS Treatment for Tinnitus | Sooma Medical

Unfortunately the study found little to no benefit (no more than sham) using tDCS with two different montages to treat tinnitus. What is very interesting however, is that the study allowed participants to administer tDCS at home.

A Sooma tDCSTM device (Sooma Oy, Helsinki, Finland) was used in the study. The device is designed and approved for patient use with pre-programmed treatment parameters and hardware-level safety limits. Patients were given a package consisting of the stimulator unit and stimulation electrodes (consisting leads and pads) along with three pairs of sponge pouches for the electrode pads, a head cap with openings for the electrodes (Fig 1), a chinstrap and 0.9% saline solution.

tdcsElectrodePouchCap

In Europe, Sooma depression solution was approved for depression treatment in 2014.

tdcsSoomaMedical2

Download the Sooma brochure (pdf)

tdcsSoomaMedical

 

New Electrodes From Focus and Caputron | Speak Wisdom

Dr. Williams at SpeakWisdom takes a look at the new focus electrodes as well as new Caputron Amrex-style electrodes. Electrode Wars! (Well Not Quite)

foc.us (famous for the foc.us V2 brain stimulation device and the new Go Flow tDCS device) is just releasing a new sponge electrode system  for the V2 and Go Flow that is very interesting! It consists of a rubber-like shell (about 2×2) and sponges that when inserted result in a 1.25 x 1.25 inch sponge contact area. To connect to the foc.us sponge electrodes, you need a special V2/Go Flow cable that attaches magnetically to the electrode shell. That means the problem of having an electrode jerked off of your head should you become tangled somehow goes away. This is a vastly better connection technology than the banana plug and socket used by many manufactures.

IMG_3146

Experimenting with electricity | Al Jazeera America

[Update 5/1/16] Perhaps with the unfortunate demise of Al Jazeera America, they have posted their TechKnow series online. We’re now able to watch the episode that featured Erica and Jeff and tDCS.

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.

2016 Neurostimulation | Virtual Futures Salon

Something remarkable comes of staring the future deep in the eyes and challenging everything that it seems to promise.

Virtual Futures | Conference & Salon Events on the Convergence of Art, Science, Technology, Philosophy & Culture | Originally based at the University of Warwick

You can watch the entire event as one clip, but I very much like how they have it snipped up into a playlist you can pick and choose from. Here are examples from each of the speakers. Full Playlist.

 

Meet Andrew Vladimirov

Andrew certainly seems like someone I should interview for the podcast!
From CNN Money This guy wears a helmet to make his brain more productive

From Sky News Brain Hacking On Rise: Could It Make You Perkier? (Also features Camilla Nord)

From 2014 DIY Brain Hacking with Andrew Vladimirov Speaker Preview of Anticipating 2025

And a couple of short clips from the Virtual Future Salon, February 2016

What Andrew is suggesting in this next clip is pretty wild. Basically, that he wants neurostimulation to operate in the brain at the molecular level, similar to how drugs work. Target a receptor site with a unique waveform?!!!

Mind machines – the promise and problems of cognitive enhancement devices

In this video Roi Cohen Kadosh (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oxford) likens the use tDCS without a task and purpose, to an athlete taking steroids and not exercising. He discusses recent papers coming out of his lab and describes the research that resulted in this paper: Combining brain stimulation and video game to promote long-term transfer of learning and cognitive enhancement. Kadosh points out that while tDCS did enhance performance in a math challenge, it simultaneously had a negative impact on another. Following Kadosh, Dr Hannah Maslen discusses DIY and DTC tDCS in the context of regulation in the EU.

Those who received real tDCS performed significantly better in the game than the sham group, and showed transfer effects to working memory, a related but non-numerical cognitive domain. This transfer effect was absent in active and sham control groups. Furthermore, training gains were more pronounced amongst those with lower baseline cognitive abilities, suggesting the potential for reducing cognitive inequalities. All effects associated with real tDCS remained 2 months post-training. Our study demonstrates the potential benefit of this approach for long-term enhancement of human learning and cognition.

Catching Up With tDCS News

If you’re a Twitter person, follow along here: https://twitter.com/DIYtDCS where I cover more advanced tDCS-related news.

In new work Jonides in presenting at the CNS conference, he and colleagues have found that tDCS has a robust effect on working memory, with enhancements lasting over a course of months. “Previous research has been equivocal about whether tDCS enhances training, and there have been no long-term investigations of how long that training effect lasts,” Jonides says.

In the new study, 62 participants randomly received tDCS stimulation to either the right or left prefrontal cortex or received sham stimulation while performing a visuospatial working memory task. After 7 training sessions, those who received the tDCS stimulation had increased working memory capabilities, even several months after completing their training. They also found that those who receive stimulation on the right prefrontal cortex had selective ability to transfer the working memory to non-trained tasks.

I will definitely be following up on this one. Neuroscientists working to test brain training claims 4/5/16
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Here, we review the recent research that has explored the effects of tDCS on WM (working memory) in healthy young adults, older adults, and patient populations. We also discuss several recent meta-analyses that have examined the efficacy of tDCS as a WM intervention. While a majority of the papers reviewed suggest that tDCS can modulate WM, this effect is highly inconsistent. These seemingly conflicting results may be driven by differences in study design, tDCS protocol, or inter-individual differences.

Meta research paper looks years of tDCS working memory research. Interesting and useful, in the list of papers they cite they add (highlighted) the particular significance of that paper. Uncertainty and Promise: the Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Working Memory  4/5/16
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Those advantages appeal to the DIY users as well. On Reddit’s tDCS community, many anonymous users describe using the technique to treat mental disorders, including depression and anxiety. Alexander Mark is one of them. A 63-year-old Michigan resident, he says, “I am afflicted with Bipolar Disorder II, and learned about tDCS in an effort to find a way to relieve myself of the severe depression that often comes with the illness.” He began trying it when his medication proved ineffective (though that’s no longer the case), and he’s only had a single negative experience—when he misplaced an electrode. (He currently uses the Chattanooga Ionto iontophoresis system, which sells for about $700 through third-party merchants on Amazon.)

Article also discusses a Direct To Consumer tDCS device that didn’t do so well in their tests. The promise and peril of DIY electrical brain stimulation By Anna Denejkina 4/10/16
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I would argue that the fine tradition of self-experimentation can be harnessed, if structures are created that allow at-home users to contribute their experiences to a common store of knowledge. At present online sharing of tDCS experiences is haphazard, and is restricted to the more anarchic fringes of the internet. However, those communities are generating potentially valuable information, which could be of great interest to researchers and to manufacturers. At-home and DIY users frequently stretch the limits of protocols, delivering higher current for greater amounts of time.17 Bringing at-home users into the fold will provide useful information about safe and unsafe protocols, and will generate important information about the milder side-effects of tDCS that are thought to be under-reported by researchers

In his paper The regulation of consumer tDCS: engaging a community of creative self-experimenters, Nick Davis makes the case that there is the potential for home-use DIY users to contribute to our understanding of tDCS. 4/5/16
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Tyler, who co-founded Thync and recently returned to academia as an associate professor at Arizona State University, says such concerns are legitimate. Yet he is certain that they can be overcome and that medical-grade brain devices will one day be commonplace and able to, for example, relieve the pain of migraines or treat debilitating neurological conditions.

“Yes, a lot more work still needs to be done,” he said. “But the technology holds tremendous promise. It’s not just about us saying we’re going to stimulate the nerves so you can chill.”

Mostly about the Thync (not tDCS) device. Note that Jamie Tyler, who was a co-founder and lead scientist at Thync, has returned to academia (and I’ll hazard a guess, to his first love, transcranial pulsed ultrasound stimulation). Brain-zapping gadgets promise to make you a better you — smarter, stronger, even happier. 3/29/16
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Understanding The Mechanism Underlying The Effects of tDCS

The paper, Calcium imaging reveals glial involvement in transcranial direct current stimulation-induced plasticity in mouse brain, is being lauded as a major discovery among tDCS researchers. It is however, extremely hard to follow. Fortunately RIKEN also issued a press release describing the study in a way most tDCS-curious will understand. Read the full press release here.

Researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered that the benefits of stimulating the brain with direct current come from its effects on astrocytes — not neurons — in the mouse brain. Published in Nature Communications, the work shows that applying direct current to the head releases synchronized waves of calcium from astrocytes that can reduce depressive symptoms and lead to a general increase in neural plasticity — the ability of neuronal connections to change when we try to learn or form memories.


(top) Low spontaneous calcium activity in a normal mouse followed by tDCS-induced calcium surges. (bottom) tDCS-induced calcium surges are absent in IP3 Receptor 2 knockout mice, indicating that the calcium surges originate in astrocytes, not neurons.
Note: The upper. ‘normal’ mouse brain vs. modified mouse brain, bottom. Watch near ticking clock when ‘spontaneous’ switches to ‘tDCS’.

Let’s put this in some context by having a quick look at astrocytes and glial cells. From 2-Minute Neuroscience

Electrical brain stimulation can help recovery from stroke | CTV

Watch the CTV news story.tdcsCtvStrokeStudy

Dr. Alexander Thiel, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Centre at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, said the TDCS treatments have been studied before, but what’s special about the study out of Oxford is that it suggests the treatment may be causing structural changes in the brain that contribute to the patient’s recovery.

“This is important because it could either indicate that some parts of these nerve cells are able to regenerate, or these nerve cells try to form alternative pathways  to reroute the traffic in the brain to a different route  from the one that has been destroyed by the stroke,” he told CTV News.

Stroke patients in Canada can’t get TDCS therapy outside of a research study. But with several studies underway around the world, scientists hope they’ll be able to quickly confirm that brain stimulation has the power to accelerate stroke recovery.

Full article: Electrical brain stimulation can help recovery from stroke: study
Study: Ipsilesional anodal tDCS enhances the functional benefits of rehabilitation in patients after stroke
Study author: Charlotte Stagg