We met Ana Maiques, the co-founder of Neuroelectrics, maker of StarStim, in our first podcast. It should be pointed out that StarStim is a research-grade tDCS/EEG device that includes a powerful suite of software. In fact it’s not available to the general public.
Spanish research student, Azahara De La Vega Fernandez (pictured with Brian) is investigating under psychology lecturer Nick Davies how brain stimulation can be used to improve sporting ability Photo: Alistair Heap
She invited me to throw ten darts before being brain-hacked, and ten darts after.
And, while the current was gently sizzling through me, she played me a tape in which a man calmly talked me into picturing how brilliantly I was going to throw those arrows.
There is no point undergoing tDCS if you’re not already mentally focused.
Davis compares it with a weightlifter taking steroids. ‘If he takes them without pumping iron, they won’t give him bigger muscles,’ he says.
He also summons the example of Andy Murray going back to his chair between games, and replaying in his mind the shots he has just played, as well as imagining himself walking up to the net as the eventual winner.
It’s called visualisation, and all modern sportsmen and women are encouraged to do it.
Davis thinks that tDCS could help them do it better, sharpening that mental imagery. That’s why he’s experimenting on people like me.
First I needed to put my thinking cap on. This is the StarStim, a rubber hat with electrodes dangling from it.
Made in Barcelona, it costs £7,000.
New Stuff! Enobio 32: EEG Cap now in 32 channels. Neurosurfer: Combine 2D & 3D (inculding Oculus Rift support) Neurofeedback games. Starstim Home Research Kit: Allows physicians to facilitate telemedicine tDCS sessions. Starstim tCS: Starstim without EEG. NUBE: Cloud data management for your tDCS and EEG studies. (Neuroelectrics has been distributing Starstim devices at the university research level for some years. We should assume they’ve collected a lot of fascinating data.)
Neurosurfer Software in action:
As our awareness of brainwave activity mapped to behavior evolves, we’re sure to see the development of tACS for treatment and enhancement. I am betting that Neurolectrics, with their lab-level NIB/EEG device, Starstim, have been collecting valuable data in this area.
Jones and Kerr are now working with Dr. Ben Greenberg, professor of psychiatry and human behavior, to test whether they can use noninvasive, transcranial alternating current electrical stimulation (tACS) to take advantage of this process. They will test whether they can use the technology to manipulate alpha and beta waves between parts of the brain such as the somatosensory cortex and the rIFC to suppress attention to, or even the detection of, pain.
In a similar vein, research results show that mindfulness meditation, also possibly via the mechanism of throttling attention via control of alpha rhythms, can help people ignore depressive thoughts. Jones and Kerr are also interested to study whether explicit manipulation of alpha and beta waves between a different part of the cortex and the rIFC could provide much the same relief.
The Brown Institute for Brain Science recently outfitted a new lab on campus with the needed hardware for tACS and other brain stimulation research. BIBS and the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute are funding the collaboration with Greenberg.
The developers of Starstim, Neurolectrics, have a blog where they frequently discuss tDCS (and EEG). Here’s a snippet from their latest on tDCS & pain. Hit the link below to their full article.
Is transcranial current stimulation tCS, including direct current, tDCS, alternating current, tACS, or random noise stimulation tRNS effective? Now that is a good and difficult question! Let me try to review recent developments. In a recent post I provided an overview of tCS in Stroke. Here I do the same but for Pain. Please let me know if you think I am missing some important one! I have relied on Google Scholar and also PubMed to carry out the search, including the terms of tDCS, tACS, tRNS as well as Pain since 2012 and till Sep 2013.
Well here we go! Episode one of the DIY tDCS podcast. Ana Maiques is co-founder (with Giulio Ruffini) of Spanish-based Starlab. Their spin-off company, Neuroelectrics makes Enobio, a research-quality wireless EEG device, and Starstim, a multi-channel wireless tcs & tDCS device. Download the interviewhere (zipped mp3). Show notes after the fold.
Ana Maiques of Starlab and Enobio
Ana Maiques wearing her Enobio
(If you speak Spanish you might enjoy the interview these photos were taken from.) Also, if you’re an EEG or tDCS researcher or clinician (or VC) on the East Coast, Ana is frequently in the New York and Boston area and is happy to discuss Enobio and Starstim. Neuroelectrics will be at the Advances in Mediation Research conference in NY Jan. 17 2013. (Schedule) Check out the Neuroelectrics blog for excellent tDCS and EEG info.
Starlab is the parent company > Space (sensors) + Neuroscience
Cutting edge research > impact on society… products and services
Twelve years of research in neuroscience > Enobio, Starstim
Initial market is early adopters – researchers, clinicians and practitioners
Starstim (tDCS) > chronic pain, stroke rehabilitation (later… depression >> cognitive enhancement, addiction)
Medically certified in Europe and Canada
Filing 510k for Enobio in the US
Starstim has 8 channels for use as HD tDCS but can also use traditionally
Can also do tACS (alternating current), or random noise stimulation and at the same time Simultaneously record EEG
Can also use dry EEG electrodes Roi Cohen Kadosh Oxford study, kids etc. (Link to video we discussed. NewScientist)
Study will determine if tDCS is efficacious in enhancing performance in certain areas (math)
Will have implications for people with Alzheimers
Partnerships with 15 hospitals doing research with Starstim
8 in U.S. and 7 in Europe. Different pathologies. Results to be published soon.
Post-stroke rehabilitation is a great place to see the effectiveness of tDCS
tDCS > Motor recovery… hand rehabilitation…
Can thereby measure the degrees of movement and improvement very objectively
Couple of groups showing very measurable results.
The Muse, Neurosky, Emotiv Home EEG devices?
Limitation is number of channels.
Started Enobio with 4 channels, but feedback from medical community lead to developing a 20 channel Enobio.
For certain applications – games, BCI etc, the home EEG devices might be fine
But we’re looking at the medical application of EEG.
Doctors and researchers require the maximum coverage of the head.
Signal quality is very important.
Emotion recognition, neural marketing, traumatic brain injury – concussion
BCI – wheelchairs.
Sponsoring a conference in NY on meditation. Sloan Kettering pre-chemo
medications >> less pain, better toleration of treatment.
Spanish VCs even more conservative since crisis
Patents >> cloud-based database recording experimental data
Software runs on a Mac.
“We always said we want to be the Apple of neuroscience…”
This comes to us via the Neuroelectrics.com blog. I’m very excited to see Neuroelectrics on the scene. I first noticed their device Starstim (pictured), popping up in news around Roi Cohen Kadish’s ongoing tDCS trials at his Oxford lab (see). I believe Neuroelectrics is a Spanish company. What’s especially exciting to me is that they also make an EEG device called Enobio and are working on the ability to map brain activity with EEG while undergoing tDCS. Think about that! Live, in-the-moment feedback on exactly what effect your tDCS is having.
More than 100 studies have been performed using tDCS in healthy controls and in patient populations, and no serious side effects have occurred for a review, see Nitsche and others 2008. Slight itching under the electrode, headache, fatigue, and nausea have been described in a minority of cases in a series of more than 550 subjects Poreisz and others 2007. Detailed studies have been performed to assess the safety of tDCS. These have shown that there was no evidence of neuronal damage as assessed by serum neuron-specific enolase after application of a 1 mA anodal current for 13 minutes Nitsche and Paulus 2001; Nitsche, Nitsche, and others 2003 or MRI measures of edema using contrast-enhanced and diffusion-weighted MRI measures after application of a 1 mA current for 13 minutes anodal or 9 minutes cathodal; Nitsche, Niehaus, and others 2004 […] In addition, a recent study was performed in rats using an epicranial electrode montage designed to be similar to that used in tDCS Liebetanz and others 2009. This demonstrated that brain lesions occurred only at current densities greater than 1429 mA/cm2 applied for durations longer than 10 minutes. In standard tDCS protocols in humans, a current density of approximately 0.05 mA/cm2 is produced.