Intro to, basics of tDCS.
Understanding Noninvasive Brain Stimulation with Dr Marom Bikson NeuroGal
Intro to, basics of tDCS.
Intro to, basics of tDCS.
Understanding Noninvasive Brain Stimulation with Dr Marom Bikson NeuroGal
Dave Asprey and Dr. Daniel Chao, Co-Founder and CEO of Halo Neuroscience go deep into the past, present and future of neurostimulation.
[Update 2/3/18] Nature reports on updates since the information about the research first emerged. How flashing lights and pink noise might banish Alzheimer’s, improve memory and more
I was first alerted to the story from a December 7 article in the Guardian, “Strobe lighting provides a flicker of hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s“. Researchers from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, working with (let’s call them) ‘Alzehiemer’s mice’, had discovered that flashing a light at 40hz (on-off at 40 times per second) increased gamma wave oscillations in the brain which led to the reduction of Amyloid beta (think, plaque) through the activation of microglia ‘clean-up’ immune cells. Here, let them explain it!
The paper, Gamma frequency entrainment attenuates amyloid load and modifies microglia makes clear that the light-flickering affected the visual cortex, which makes sense, as the light reaches the brain through the eyes. But wait, thinks I, what about tACS (transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation)… haven’t I seen numerous papers implying the ability to ‘entrain’ brain waves with tACS? What if you could increase 40hz Gamma in other parts of the brain? (Google Scholar Search: transcranial alternating, entrain, gamma)
But then I discovered that Radiolab just covered this exact story and it’s totally amazing! Really a must listen. So fun to hear the researcher’s amazement at this accidental (sort of) discovery!
So what’s with the photo of the Foc.us v2 device set up for a 40hz tACS session? Just that…
More about The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT
It ‘makes sense’ that stimulating neurons in areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s would be of benefit, but as the researchers state, we won’t know for sure until the science is complete. In the meantime, if you know anyone in Montreal with Alzheimer’s issues, the study is recruiting.
The study is still accepting new patients.To find out more, contact researchers at the Research Institute of the MUHC at 514-934-1934 ext 34439 or Rishanthi.sivakumaran [@] rimuhc.ca
Robin at Caputron dropped me a note to let me know they are now carrying the Foc.us V2 device. Purchased alone, it does not include electrodes, but there is an option to add their ‘starter kit’ which includes the Caputron Universal Strap, Caputron Banana Adapter Cable for Focus Device, and Choice of 2×2 or 3×3 Electrodes. (Use diytdcs at checkout for generous discount). Foc.us V2 Device at Caputron.
If what attracted you to tDCS is all the news (and hype) around the possible benefits, cognitive and otherwise, that tDCS may provide, then I recommend the Foc.us V2 device. It’s had a thorough going over, and apart from the (then included) electrodes, proved to be an amazing piece of gear. tDCS, tACS, tRNS, tPCS in a single sub $300 unit with a software interface!
Elsewhere on the blog I’ve stated that I recommend the ActivaDose ll device. This is an FDA approved device – it’s NOT FDA approved for tDCS – it’s approval is for use as an Iontophoresis device. The point is that the electronics and workmanship have attained an FDA level of approval. It’s simple and straightforward to use.
The only reason I haven’t recommended other tDCS devices on the market is because I’m not in a position to analyze the quality of their workmanship myself. I recommend the Activadose ll because people looking to experiment with tDCS for the treatment of depression can’t be assumed to have a toolset for determining the mechanical workmanship of an electrical device they’re going to be attaching to their heads! The Activadose ll, an FDA approved device, at least assures the buyer the device itself is of high quality. It’s also more likely to retain some resale value in the event someone decides later on to sell it.
I recommend the Foc.us V2 because of it’s variety of stimulation modes. Folks who are sophisticated enough about neurostimulation to be experimenting with cognitive enhancement would obviously benefit from having the option to test other forms of stimulation that frequently come up in the scientific literature.
When you use code diytdcs at checkout at Caputron you get a discount, and I get a small commission.
I do hope to understand this better. Is it just that he was so impressed with his own Halo Sport experience that he was motivated to tell the world about it? Is it that Mario is a YouTube content creator and knew this would be compelling content? I will update the post as I learn more.
And here is the video Mario made in November, 2016 where he describes the impact using Halo Sport had on his piano playing.
Hey Mario, If you’re reading this drop me a line, I’d like to talk to you.
Insurers are starting to cover TMS for depression (after determining that SSRIs or other medications aren’t working for the patient). A full course, 24-36 treatments, of TMS can cost well over $10k. Though this is purely conjecture on my part, one way tDCS might make it into the mainstream is as a method to ‘top up’ post-TMS treatment as effects begin to fade.
Published on Jun 19, 2017 | YouTube UCLA
As the number of people suffering from depression rises, doctors are looking for new, more targeted ways to treat it. One approach used by doctors at UCLA and a handful of other centers nationwide is to beam magnetic pulses deep into patients’ brains, a therapy known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The therapy is time-consuming, and only a few hospitals or clinics offer it, but its ability to work in a fundamentally different way from medications is also what makes it so promising for people not helped by drugs.
Do not use the “Oreo Cookie” approach where you soak your sponge in your saline solution and squeeze it to remove the extra. Because it over saturates, it’s dripping, it’s very “subjective” and hard to reproduce. Get a syringe and put 8mL of saline solution on your sponge and make sure to also get the corners. Do that prior to insert the electrode in between the 2 layers. If it’s dripping wet, that’s bad (you’re doing it wrong!). You should not have to use a tower on the patient’s neck.
There’s been a lot of attention to the Halo Neuroscience device, much of it around use by olympic-level athletes. Halo Sport is a VC-backed tDCS device that targets the Motor Cortex. We’ve covered it previously elsewhere on the blog.
For the first time, UNC School of Medicine scientists report using transcranial alternating current stimulation, or tACS, to target a specific kind of brain activity during sleep and strengthen memory in healthy people.
Flavio Frohlich, PhD
Full Story: No dream: electric brain stimulation during sleep can boost memory
Paper: Feedback-Controlled Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation Reveals a Functional Role of Sleep Spindles in Motor Memory Consolidation
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.
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
In two sham-controlled experiments, we found that repeated daily prefrontal tDCS sessions over 5 several days could effectively modulate how non-depressed individuals self-assess their mood states. Results show that participants experienced less psychological distress from daily stressors, a well established cause in the establishment of a negative emotional state. We replicated this finding in an independent, randomized, double-blind experiment applying similar protocol and stimulation on 3 consecutive days.
Wait! There’s a Science Daily version.
Brain boost: Research to improve memory through electricity?
More important, the researchers identified the actual molecular trigger behind the bolstered memory and plasticity–increased production of BDNF, a protein essential to brain growth. BDNF, which stands for “brain-derived neurotrophic factor,” is synthesized naturally by neurons and is crucial to neuronal development and specialization.
“While the technique and behavioral effects of tDCS are not new,” said ONR Global Associate Director Dr. Monique Beaudoin, “Dr. Grassi’s work is the first to describe BDNF as a mechanism for the behavioral changes that occur after tDCS treatment. This is an exciting and growing research area of great interest to ONR.”
The research is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research!
What he said!
Holy crap! tDCS boosts synaptic plasticity and memory in mice via epigenetic regulation of Bdnf expression. https://t.co/QbtGcYVr8S
— Peter Simpson-Young (@PSimpsonyoung) March 3, 2016
Podda, M. V. et al. Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation boosts synaptic plasticity and memory in mice via epigenetic regulation of Bdnf expression. Sci. Rep. 6, 22180; doi: 10.1038/srep22180 (2016).
I won’t even pretend to understand this paper at this point, but it’s unique enough that I want to encourage people to have a look. That said… what I think it’s saying is that (in mice) hippocampal tDCS creates a chain reaction that results in increased brain plasticity, i.e. increased neuronal connection which in this case is responsible for increased performance in a memory task. (Not more neurotransmitters.)
But this paper suggests the actual mechanism for how this is happening.
We hypothesized that anodal tDCS induced membrane depolarization mimicking neuronal activation and triggered epigenetic changes at Bdnf, thus favoring its transcription.
All together these results indicate that Bdnf expression in the hippocampus is induced by anodal tDCS and that enhanced acetylation at Bdnf promoter I is likely responsible for such effect.
Collectively, these data suggest that anodal tDCS induced epigenetic changes at Bdnf promoters likely relying on a mechanism involving CREB activation, CBP recruitment and H3K9 acetylation.
These results strongly support our hypothesis that increased histone acetylation promoting Bdnf transcription plays a major role in anodal tDCS-induced enhancement of synaptic plasticity.