Dave Siever – Mind Alive Revisited

We met Dave earlier on the blog. His company, Mind Alive Inc. operates out of Edmonton, Canada and sells a wide variety of ‘mind machines‘, including the Oasis Pro, which can be used for tDCS. Medical devices are controlled differently in Canada, the EU, and the U.S. About tDCS devices…

In Canada, it is not considered a medical device when used in a cognitiveneuroscience application.

I need to do a deep dive with an expert at some point, but for now, let’s operate under the assumption that it’s much easier to get a tDCS device in Canada or Europe. According to the Mind Alive ordering page, there does not seem to be anything special or awkward about ordering one of their devices. (I have no affiliation with Mind Alive).

Here Dave gives an overview of tDCS, how it’s theorized to work, and includes a set of tDCS montages for various purposes. Excellent!


Is tDCS Safe? – Neuroelectrics.com

This comes to us via the Neuroelectrics.com blog. I’m very excited to see Neuroelectrics on the scene. I first noticed their device Starstim (pictured),  popping up in news around Roi Cohen Kadish’s ongoing tDCS trials at his Oxford lab (see). I believe Neuroelectrics is a Spanish company. What’s especially exciting to me is that they also make an EEG device called Enobio and are working on the ability to map brain activity with EEG while undergoing tDCS. Think about that! Live, in-the-moment feedback on exactly what effect your tDCS is having.

More than 100 studies have been performed using tDCS in healthy controls and in patient populations, and no serious side effects have occurred for a review, see Nitsche and others 2008. Slight itching under the electrode, headache, fatigue, and nausea have been described in a minority of cases in a series of more than 550 subjects Poreisz and others 2007. Detailed studies have been performed to assess the safety of tDCS. These have shown that there was no evidence of neuronal damage as assessed by serum neuron-specific enolase after application of a 1 mA anodal current for 13 minutes Nitsche and Paulus 2001; Nitsche, Nitsche, and others 2003 or MRI measures of edema using contrast-enhanced and diffusion-weighted MRI measures after application of a 1 mA current for 13 minutes anodal or 9 minutes cathodal; Nitsche, Niehaus, and others 2004 […] In addition, a recent study was performed in rats using an epicranial electrode montage designed to be similar to that used in tDCS Liebetanz and others 2009. This demonstrated that brain lesions occurred only at current densities greater than 1429 mA/cm2 applied for durations longer than 10 minutes. In standard tDCS protocols in humans, a current density of approximately 0.05 mA/cm2 is produced.

More about the Neuroelectrics Enobio EEG device.

via Is tDCS Safe?.

tDCS – Building Research tDCS Units « SpeakWisdom

This bubbled up today. He explores some choices he made in building his DIY kit in a series of blog posts on tDCS.

Just to see how easily it could be done, I built a couple of tDCS units for about $30 each using common parts. The meters were purchased from EBay for about $7 each and all the remaining components came from a local Radio Shack, including the case, voltage regulator, resistors, etc. The tDCS units feature a potentiometer to make it possible to adjust current for treatment specifics or pad variations.

(Two tDCS units built in about 3 hours for well less than $100)


via tDCS – Building Research tDCS Units « SpeakWisdom.

If She Were Your Daughter – Ritalin, Adderall or tDCS?

Update 11/18/12 New Scientist has just posted a video showing (I believe) the device and test that will be used in Roi Cohen Kadosh’s upcoming study to study the efficacy of tDCS to enhance math abilities. Brain-zapping Kinect game boosts mathematical skills

The recent PBS article Boosting Kids’ Brain Power nicely documents the work of University of Oxford’s Dr. Roi Cohen Kadosh in testing and developing protocols for improving math and learning skills with tDCS. Through interviews, PBS follows the thinking of parents exploring the possibility of using tDCS to help their kid’s difficulties with learning math. One parent compares the possible harms of tDCS vs. pharmaceutical approaches and I think this is the key question. You can listen to the piece on the article page, or download the mp3 here.

The PBS story follows a trend on the uptick: Brain enhancement and the ethics thereof.  In How Science Can Build a Better You, David Ewing Duncan tells us:

Over the last couple of years during talks and lectures, I have asked thousands of people a hypothetical question that goes like this: “If I could offer you a pill that allowed your child to increase his or her memory by 25 percent, would you give it to them?”

The show of hands in this informal poll has been overwhelming, with 80 percent or more voting no.

Then I asked a follow-up question. “What if this pill was safe and increased your kid’s grades from a B average to an A average?” People tittered nervously, looked around to see how others were voting as nearly half said yes. (Many didn’t vote at all.)

“And what if all of the other kids are taking the pill?” I asked. The tittering stopped and nearly everyone voted yes.

Another NY Times article Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill points out the extent to which kids are already using pharmaceuticals, illegally, to enhance brain power.

The boy exhaled. Before opening the car door, he recalled recently, he twisted open a capsule of orange powder and arranged it in a neat line on the armrest. He leaned over, closed one nostril and snorted it.

Throughout the parking lot, he said, eight of his friends did the same thing.

The drug was not cocaine or heroin, but Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that the boy said he and his friends routinely shared to study late into the night, focus during tests and ultimately get the grades worthy of their prestigious high school in an affluent suburb of New York City. The drug did more than just jolt them awake for the 8 a.m. SAT; it gave them a tunnel focus tailor-made for the marathon of tests long known to make or break college applications.

All of this points to an alarming skewing of culture and values I have no business addressing. It is easy for me to say however, that if my son or daughter were facing issues around attention or learning abilities, I’d certainly want the option of a proven, effective, and safe tDCS treatment before I’d consider a pharmaceutical approach.

To that end I wish Roi Cohen Kadish and his team at Oxford the best in their ongoing trials. See Also: Electrical brain stimulation improves math skills New Scientist
‘Human enhancement’ comes a step closer BBC
Brain stimulation ‘not a magic pill’ BBC Audio
The ethics of brain boosting Oxford