Yes, the promise of tDCS and yet… having just listened to 6 or so hours of leading edge tDCS science I’d have to say we are actually farther away from the dream of simple and easy cognitive enhancement than when I first became interested. Things like… What if 2mA doesn’t have twice the effect of 1mA, but has an entirely different effect altogether? What if the differences in the shapes of people’s heads renders any notion of standard current flow a ludicrous idea? What if most of the experiments on which we base our understanding of tDCS were poorly designed and in fact don’t tell us anything like what they say they do? Did you know that the standard tDCS dose of 1-2mA was a ‘historical accident’? Certainly the questions are becoming finely focused and it does look to me like some very smart scientists are highly motivated to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on. Stay tuned!
Whether it’s hitting a golf ball, playing the piano or speaking a foreign language, becoming really good at something requires practice. Repetition creates neural pathways in the brain, so the behavior eventually becomes more automatic and outside distractions have less impact. It’s called being in the zone.
But what if you could establish the neural pathways that lead to virtuosity more quickly? That is the promise of transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS — the passage of very low-level electrical current through targeted areas of the brain. Several studies conducted in medical and military settings indicate tDCS may bring improvements in cognitive function, motor skills and mood.