DIY tDCS Start Here

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New to DIYtDCS? This is the ‘start here’ collection of articles and posts.

  1. DIYtDCS Feed, last 50 articles https://www.diytdcs.com/feed/
  2. My Twitter feed focuses on breaking tDCS research. @DIYtDCS
  3. My Reddit account, where it’s okay to explore the fringes. DIYtDCS
  4. Recommended device? (29V / 2mA model. Promo code ‘diytdcs’ for discount)
  5. Best instruction video for C3/Motorcortex & F3/DLPFC electrode placement.
  6. Is this (tDCS for depression in pregnancy) the first ‘killer app’?
  7. Cognitive Enhancement with Noninvasive Brain Stimulation (video) Roy Hamilton MD
  8. Simple Montage list with electrode placement and research sources.
  9. Marom Bikson & Peter Toshev ‘Your Electric Pharmacy‘ (excellent overview/intro).
  10. My podcast interviews – deep dives into tDCS with key players (iTunes link)
  11. tDCS SubReddit is where the action is. Now with tDCS FAQ!
  12. Dr. Brent Williams’ DIY device and protocol.
  13. Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus
  14. Better Living Through Electrochemistry
  15. Clinical tDCS trials seek volunteers. All. Search. (Example: “tDCS AND Los Angeles”)
  16. Neuroscience: Brain buzz Nature Magazine
  17. DLPFC / F3 Locator (you’ll need a tape measure with Centimeters)
  18. Foc.us 3d tDCS Placements Guide Model
  19. Searchable database of tDCS articles from trans-cranial.com
  20. 10–20 international system
  21. Kadosh The Stimulated Brain: Cognitive Enhancement Using NIBS

Stimulation Excites the Brain to Form Better Memories | NorthwesternU

Not tDCS, but TMS -Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, another form of TES – Transcranial Electric Stimulation, that is being used both clinically (FDA approved for the treatment of depression) and as a research tool. Unlike tDCS, TMS can be of sufficient power to cause neurons to fire– imagine a finger twitching in response the the activation of the TMS device.

The video describes an experiment where researchers are attempting to improve the quality of memory encoding using TMS. The point of sharing it with you on the blog is to point out how difficult this is in fact to do. tDCS for cognitive enhancement was what initially inspired this blog, and now these six years later, I’m not sure we’re any closer to having a useful tool for cognitive enhancement of any kind, though I am reasonably confident in stating that tDCS for the treatment of depression is at least worth trying. (Other areas of research I’m more optimistic about are tDCS and Aphasia, tDCS and Parkinson’s, and tDCS for the enhancement of physical training. But in all of these the jury is still out, as there is conflicting research results.)

Note as well in the video the elaborate set up for measuring the effect of TMS in the memory study. These are often standardized tests used throughout psychology research. Unfortunately they are often costly and complicated to use. Point being that any sort of DIY cognitive enhancement experiments need to consider how effects will be measured.

Read more about the research here: Stimulation excites the brain to form better memories
Find the paper here: Selective and coherent activity increases due to stimulation indicate functional distinctions between episodic memory networks
See also: Hippocampal memory encoding and retrieval

Depression treatment technique uses new helmet therapy | BBC News

Updated 9/3/18: TMSuino3 A low-cost arduino-based TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) device.

This github project is a step-by-step manual. Anyone with a high school diploma should be able to follow it and build a TMSuino themselves. That’s what I was aiming for. TMSuino’s principle of operation is taken from a scientific paper published in the 1990s. So it is free of valid patent claims. Costs for parts, materials and shipping should be around 150,- dollars/euros. There is no soldering required! Estimated build time is 2 1/2 hours.

A comment on the blog from Martin Mueller informed me of this very interesting new arduino-based TMS device. I’ve also posted a link to the r/diytdcs Reddit page in hopes of hearing feedback from more technically-minded folks. I will update this post as info emerges. TMSuino3 seems to be loosely based on the work of Steen Dissing whose device we looked at in 2015 (see below) where it’s referred to as Transcranial Pulsating Electro Magnetic Fields therapy or t-PEMF.

The Introduction to the github article collects the author’s frustrations and suspicions around transparency in the bipolar research community and basically comes away from the experience hypothesizing what sounds like a conspiracy. Wait, big pharma and medical device companies manipulating the market to ensure maximum profit? Either way, he shares an article that confirms Steen Dissing’s frustration in getting his device accepted and adopted for treatment of depression in Denmark. An Inventor’s Triumph and Frustration.

It turns out a medical grade device has been developed and approved for treatment of depression in Denmark. The Re5, made by Navamedic. There are a collection of research papers linked to at their site.
————————– Original 2015 article.
Thanks to reader Jerico for alerting me to this. Transcranial Pulsating Electro Magnetic Fields therapy is new to me. It does not seem to be experiencing anywhere near the level of research activity that is going on around tDCS. Some of the research I’m finding dates from 2001 (though the BBC article the quote is from and linked to below is from 2014).  But just to have it on our radar, and because the helmet looks so cool…

“The helmet is amazing,” said Annemette Ovlisen, a graphic artist who suffered recurrent depression for 16 years and a participant in the Hillerod trials.
It’s like the fog lifts. It was like somebody hit the reset button.”The device contains seven coils that deliver a dose of Transcranial Pulsating Electro Magnetic Fields (T-PEMF) to brain tissues.The pulses are so minute that the patient cannot detect any sensation, and the only side effect so far is occasional “tiny” nausea that immediately disappears after treatment.
Prof Steen Dissing, of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health Sciences is the helmet’s principal architect.
He said: “The device mimics electrical fields in the brain, and triggers the body’s own healing mechanism.”
The pulses activate capillaries in the brain, which form new blood vessels and secrete growth hormones.

PEMFhelmet

I’ts like somebody hit the reset button and I was back to normal.

PEMFhelmetDissingPEMFhelmetInUsevia BBC News – Depression treatment technique uses new helmet therapy.

Robin From Caputron Demonstrating Activadose II

Robin is the founder of Caputron which is a distributor of tDCS and other TES devices. Here he demonstrates the Activadose II tDCS device. For reasons mentioned elsewhere on the blog, this is the device I recommend (this is an FDA approved – for Iontophoresis – device. I’d suggest the 2mA model with the 3×3 sponge set – this is closest to what most research studies use). Caputron provides DIYtDCS readers a generous discount (I also earn a referral fee) when you use discount code ‘diytdcs’ at checkout (for any product offered by Caputron). I interviewed Robin back in 2015 when he was first getting started. Check out that post here.

Is e-meditation wave of the future? | MUSC News

This tweet, posted August 3, 2018, reminded me of Bashar W. Badran’s study (story below from 2017). Following along in the links I see that Badran has been testing a new ‘e-meditation’ device called Zendo. It’s currently not available to the general public, but you can see it in action in the photos below the tweet. You can sign up to be notified when the device becomes available here: https://e-meditation.com/about

Supercharge your zen (pdf) The benefits of yoga and meditation are plentiful, but they take years of dedicated practice to achieve. Could a zap to the brain offer a shortcut?

I had previously posted this in a comment. Sourced from the original study.

Each 20min E- meditation visit consisted of one of three randomized stimulation conditions (sham, active 1mA, or 2mA; anode – EEG F8, cathode – left supraorbital) delivered via a Chatanooga IontoTM stimulator and 2in x 2in sponge electrodes. Stimulation was synchronized with a guided mindfulness recording (recorded by ELG) lasting 20min.

Which is what’s depicted in the photo below.

Original article posted 2/12/17
Full article: Is e-meditation wave of the future?

Neuroscience doctoral student Bashar W. Badran is exploring the Use of tDCS to enhance Mindfulness Meditation (E-Meditation)
MUSC Research Assistant Caroline Summer is in background, demonstrating the tDCS device.
Photo by Sarah Pack

Badran, who used two different mindfulness scales and mood rating scales on 15 participants in a double-blind study, found that feelings of calmness increased almost 2.5 times in the group receiving active tDCS-paired meditation compared to the placebo. Individuals receiving the sham stimulation had just a 5 percent increase in calmness rating.

 

Paper (Paywall): A Double-Blind Study Exploring the Use of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to Potentially Enhance Mindfulness Meditation (E-Meditation)

New Caputron Bundles Including Focus V3

Update 8/2/18 Looks like the ActivaDose device special has ended but the Muse is still on sale. (If you’d like to receive an email when I notice special tDCS-related deals, please sign up for updates – in the sidebar.)
Update 7/25/18. I bumped this post to the top to alert readers to some very interesting deals Caputron is currently running. I will remove this when the specials end but at the moment you can purchase the ActivaDose Starter kit for $349, down from $399! Get an additional discount when you use discount code diytdcs at checkout! (At this time anyway, previously it’s been removed on specials.) They also have the Muse EEG headband on sale at $199, that’s $50 off. Not sure how long these specials will last. If you’ve been looking to acquire either of these devices here’s an opportunity to do so at a great price.

Robin at Caputron recently informed me of some new products they’re carrying including the Focus v3. The Focus v3 duplicates the functionality of the v2 (tRNS, tPCS, tACS and tDCS), but adds additional features such as what Focus calls ‘tRCS’, Transcranial Rippled Current Stimulation… as I understand it, a form of transcranial alternating current stimulation that targets multiple frequencies over time. tRCS is something new, invented by Focus, and therefore we have no scientific research to support its use at this time, but it looks very interesting. Considering the variety of stimulation modes the v3 supports, this is the obvious choice for anyone wanting to replicate research in the tACS and tRNS literature. Read more about the Focus v3 here: Instructions Guide.

Focus v3

Caputron is currently shipping the v3 with a variety of electrode options but the base unit is priced at $399. Use coupon code diytdcs at checkout for a generous discount on any product purchased from Caputron.

If you’re looking for a more ‘traditional’ type tDCS device, I recommend Caputron’s ActivaDose II tDCS Starter Kit. This is an FDA approved device (NOT for tDCS, but for iontophoresis, point being the electronics and manufacturing are at an FDA approved level). Note that the ActivaDose from Caputron comes as either an 80 Volt/4 mA Max unit, or a 29 Volt/2 mA Max. The cautious user would choose the 29 Volt model, as 2 mA is the maximum current used in most scientific studies. If you want a simple device your Mom could use, this is the way to go. Again, Use coupon code diytdcs at checkout for a generous discount.

Caputon is now carrying the Muse EEG device. They also carry more sophisticated research devices like those by Soterix. You can even purchase a TMS device through them. They have expert support and a great reputation.

 

 

Stimulating the Creative Brain – Morten Friis-Olivarius | PlatoScience

Stimulating the Creative Brain | Morten Friis-Olivarius | TEDxOslo
PlatoScience.com
PlatoWork neurostimulation device manual.

Shown here (from the video) working on the PlatoWork prototype. Note montage which according to the talk, would be focused on increasing creativity. In the video he calls the stimulation TES (Transcranial Electric Stimulation).

“Creative people somehow forget to turn off the spontaneous system while thye’re working on a task”.

A later prototype.

From the manual.

Aha, so there are 3 electrodes. And the placement resembles another study I’m aware of that used tACS to enhance creativity. (Functional role of frontal alpha oscillations in creativity). In that study…

Stimulation electrodes were positioned bilaterally over the frontal cortex (centered on EEG electrode locations F3 and F4) with a common electrodeover the apex (Cz).

But the PlatoScience FAQ clearly states they’re using tDCS.

At PlatoScience we use a version of neurostimulation called tDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation).

So here we have the first (to my knowledge) commercially available (€399) TES device designed specifically to enhance creativity. Interestingly, PlatoScience has a forum and test site (according to the video) where users can discuss their experience. The device is operated via smart phone.

Adam Gazzaley | Wisdom Labs Podcast

Source: WW009 – “Could Video Game Technology Solve the Global Cognition Crisis?” – with Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD

Adam Gazzaley and Parneet Pal, Chief Science Officer of Wisdom Labs, discuss the challenges of the modern world for our ancient brains, how to become aware of, and overcome, the interference of distraction and multitasking, and the new era of digital medicine. Conversation includes: The critical elements of what it means to be human, ethical design of technology, the cascading effect of cognitive challenges, and harnessing neuroplasticity through experience to develop stronger brains…

The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley (Amazon link)

Akili, the business end of Gazzaley’s research aims to build ‘experiential treatments’, delivered through video games, “…as medicine–as prescribable, reimbursable medicine, right up there with pharmaceuticals”. The patent is not for a video game, the patent is for a game engine… Akili now has a dozen studies going on across multiple clinical conditions. From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Traumatic Brain Injury to anxiety to Autism, depression, early Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis… The study which has garnered the most attention was the completion of our Phase 3 trial for Pediatric ADHD… What was shown was that we were able to significantly, with a reasonable effect size, improve attention ability in children with ADHD. Now advancing an application to the FDA for their class 2 medical device for the treatment of inattention in children with ADHD.

If we’re successful, it will be the first non-drug treatment for ADHD. The first prescribable video game, and the first of a new category of medicine that we think of as digital medicine, to treat a host of different conditions of the mind.

Three-minute magnetic brain stimulation treatments can reduce depression symptoms | CTV

A three-minute treatment involving magnetic stimulation of the brain works just as well as the standard form of such therapy for people with hard-to-treat depression, a new study has found.

Paper: Effectiveness of theta burst versus high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with depression (THREE-D): a randomised non-inferiority trial

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

Foc.us v2 40hz tACS

[Update 2/3/18] Nature reports on updates since the information about the research first emerged. How flashing lights and pink noise might banish Alzheimer’s, improve memory and more
———
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

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Testing TMS For Alzheimer’s

It ‘makes sense’ that stimulating neurons in areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s would be of benefit, but as the researchers state, we won’t know for sure until the science is complete. In the meantime, if you know anyone in Montreal with Alzheimer’s issues, the study is recruiting.

The study is still accepting new patients.To find out more, contact researchers at the Research Institute of the MUHC at 514-934-1934 ext 34439 or Rishanthi.sivakumaran [@] rimuhc.ca

tDCS Anomia Treatment Setup

Little information accompanies this video, but it appears to me that Karly Chapman is an Aphasia clinician demonstrating tDCS setup for fellow clinicians. She sets up for an Anomia treatment. It strikes me that a motivated family member wouldn’t have much trouble replicating this at home. Also that an online version would be a useful tool for clinicians and patients alike.