Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) Targeted Using Brain Imaging Accelerates Learning

From (I believe) a talk in 2010 given at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping by Dr. Vince Clark, director of the Clinical Neuroscience Center at the  University of New Mexico (and previously, director of the Mind Research Network). The slides reference a study where tDCS was used in training subjects to accurately detect hidden and camouflaged objects, as in a military setting. What caught my eye, something I don’t recall seeing anywhere else, is the comparison of effectiveness of different amounts of current. It begs the question: If 2 mA is more effective than 1 mA, what about 3 mA? [As Peter points out in his comment, the chart actually contrasts effects of 2 mA and  0.1 mA as a control. I do still think it’s a good question: Why 2 mA?]. Much I don’t understand in the slides without the talk to go along with, but have a look  pdf, Quick View. And a link (abstract) to what appears to me a follow-up study. P.S. After tracking all this down I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to not be able to access the full texts of these studies, especially when we (NiH, DOD) paid for them. If you can get me a copy I would
greatly appreciate it.

mind Research Network Vince Clark 1

mind Research Network Vince Clark 2


The ethics of brain boosting – University of Oxford

Recent research in Oxford and elsewhere has shown that one type of brain stimulation in particular, called transcranial direct current stimulation or TDCS, can be used to improve language and maths abilities, memory, problem solving, attention, even movement.

Critically, this is not just helping to restore function in those with impaired abilities. TDCS can be used to enhance healthy people’s mental capacities. Indeed, most of the research so far has been carried out in healthy adults.

TDCS uses electrodes placed on the outside of the head to pass tiny currents across regions of the brain for 20 minutes or so. The currents of 1–2 mA make it easier for neurons in these brain regions to fire. It is thought that this enhances the making and strengthening of connections involved in learning and memory.

The technique is painless, all indications at the moment are that it is safe, and the effects can last over the long term.

via The ethics of brain boosting – University of Oxford.