Gamma Waves Enhance the Brain’s Immune System to Treat Mice with Alzheimer’s disease.

Foc.us v2 40hz tACS

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

My tDCS Story: A Six Month Retrospective — tDCS Global — Medium

After six month of tDCS focused on my optic nerve and visual cortex combined with visual training, I have had marked improvements to my visual perception, especially in contrast perception and perceiving objects from afar. For example, if I am walking on the sidewalk, and another person is walking in the opposite direction towards me, I would not have been able to notice the other person until they were about 1 meter away. Now, I will notice people from 3 meters away. I can’t see them clearly enough to identify them, but at least I can move out of their way, if they’re in a hurry. Likewise, I can see oncoming traffic from 2–3 times farther away than before, which is very helpful when crossing busy streets. Another example is when I use my computer. I use a large Apple 30” display, and before starting tDCS, I would sit with the monitor about 3 inches from my eyes. As you can imagine, this was not at all comfortable, but I had to do this in order to see the screen clearly. After the first few days of using tDCS, I was able to push my monitor back and sit 6 inches away from it. Within two weeks, I was sitting about 12 inches away. Now, I sit 18 inches away. This is the first time in my life I’ve used a computer at this distance. Similarly, I’m able to use my iPhone at much greater distances than before 6 inches now, compared to 2 inches previously.

via My tDCS Story: A Six Month Retrospective — tDCS Global — Medium.

Articles of Note – March 2013

(What happened to February?)
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) of the visual cortex: a proof-of-concept study based on interictal electrophysiological abnormalities in migraine (pdf)
with anodal tDCS turned out to be beneficial in MoA (migraine without aura patients) migraine attack frequency, migraine days, attack duration and acute medication intake significantly decreased during the treatment period compared to pre-treatment baseline
Tags: Migraine, visual cortex,

The Mental Cost of Cognitive Enhancement (pdf)
Stimulation to the the posterior parietal cortex facilitated numerical learning, whereas automaticity for the learned material was impaired. In contrast, stimulation to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex impaired the learning process, whereas automaticity for the learned material was enhanced.
Wired Version
New Scientist Version
Tags: Roi Cohen Kadosh,

Keith Spalding’s Simple DIY TDCS circuit using CRDs
A DIY schematic for tDCS using CRDs for current regulation.
Tags: DIY, CRD

Noninvasive transcranial direct current stimulation over the left prefrontal cortex facilitates cognitive flexibility in tool use
…we hypothesized that cathodal (inhibitory) transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) will facilitate performance in a flexible use generation task.
The results support the hypothesis that certain tasks may benefit from a state of diminished cognitive control.
Tags: inhibitory benefits,

When Anger Leads to Rumination
Induction of Relative Right Frontal Cortical Activity With Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Increases Anger-Related Rumination
…results suggest that anger associated with greater relative left frontal cortical activity predicts approach-oriented aggressive action, whereas anger associated with greater relative right frontal cortical activity predicts inhibited rumination.

Potential of transcranial direct current stimulation shown in fibromyalgia
Transcranial direct current stimulation delivered focally to the left primary motor cortex of patients with fibromyalgia significantly reduced perceived pain compared with sham stimulation in a proof-of-principle pilot trial.
Tags, fibromyalgia, pain