Although the home use of tDCS is often referred to as a novel phenomenon, in reality the late nineteenth and early twentieth century saw a proliferation of electrical stimulation devices for home use.
In particular, the use of a portable electrotherapy device known as the “medical battery” bears a number of striking similarities to the modern-day use of tDCS.
Many features related to the home use tDCS—a do-it-yourself movement, anti-medical establishment themes, conflicts between lay and professional usage—are a repetition of themes that occurred a century ago with regard to the medical battery.
A number of features seem to be unique to the present, such as the dominant discourse about risk and safety, the division between cranial and non-cranial stimulation, and utilization for cognitive enhancement purposes.
Viewed in historical context, the contemporary use of electrical stimulation at home is not unusual, but rather the latest wave in a series of ongoing attempts by lay individuals to utilize electricity for therapeutic purposes.
Hard to imagine how he’d have learned enough about tDCS to build a device, but have gotten the (typical) montage so wrong. Placing the cathode over left DLPFC and anode over right orbital is exactly the opposite of what you’ll find in most studies related to both depression and working memory. He doesn’t go into how he’s constructed his electrodes at all. Anecdotally, it is interesting that the reverse montage made him feel angry and depressed.
This just came in as a comment, I’m reposting as a post. I don’t know the author and have not corresponded with them as of yet. I can confirm that the originating email address has a upen.edu footprint.
You are being invited to participate in a research study conducted by
the University of Pennsylvania. Your participation is voluntary which
means you can choose whether or not you want to participate.
The Laboratory of Cognition and Neural Stimulation at the University of
Pennsylvania is involved in research using transcranial direct current
stimulation (tDCS). In recent years this technology has increased in
popularity, and evidence suggests that some individuals may be
constructing their own stimulators for personal use. We are interested
in examining the reasons behind this. Please answer the questions below,
and email them to email@example.com to give us insight into why people
make their own tDCS machines.
1. Where did you first learn about tDCS?
2. Have you built your own tDCS machine?
3. Where did you get the information to build the machine?
4. Why did you want to try brain stimulation?
5. How long have you been using tDCS?
6. What were your experiences with this technology?
7. Did you ever experience any side-effects?
The research team may use information about you collected from your
responses. By completing the questionnaire, you are giving your consent
to participate in this study. Once you email us, your responses are not
considered confidential since emails do not protect confidentiality.
Laboratory of Cognition and Neural Stimulation
University of Pennsylvania