Spark of Genius? Awakening a Better Brain | World Science Festival



DATE: Wednesday, May 27, 2015
TIME: 8:00 PM-9:30 PM
VENUE: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
How far would you go to improve your focus, memory, or even learning ability? Would you be willing to strap on headgear that delivers electrical shocks to targeted areas of your brain? You may soon have that option. It’s called transcranial direct current stimulation, and while variations of the technique are already known to help depression patients, it’s currently being tested on soldiers, and used by gamers, students, and others looking for a cognitive edge. Does it work? Can carefully directed electrical stimulation improve cognitive function? What are potential long-term effects? And how should it be regulated?

Hacking the Brain: Neuroenhancement with Noninvasive Brain Stimulation

** PANEL **
Hank Greely, JD, Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School.
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD PhD, Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Jamie Tyler, PhD, the CSO at Thync, a company that manufactures noninvasive brain stimulation technologies for a consumer market.

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.

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Concerns and Considerations From The Neuroscience Perspective

Probably you’ll want to skip to around 8:30 where Dr. Davis begins to discuss the use of tDCS in healthy people for the purpose of enhancing cognition and motor skills. He and Dr. Pascual-Leone  go on to discuss their concerns around DIY tDCS, especially the possibility that, for instance, while one aspect of cognition may be enhanced, another may be depressed.