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‘ (pdf 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. NEW! Searchable database of tDCS studies tdcsDatabase.com
  20. 10–20 international system
  21. Kadosh The Stimulated Brain: Cognitive Enhancement Using NIBS

Nathan Reviews the LIFTiD tDCS Device

Our friend and trusted neuroscience PHD student Nathan just published a review of the new LIFTiD tDCS device, A Look At The LIFTiD tDCS (Full disclosure, both he and I were given one to try out by Caputron. I’ve been waiting for Nathan’s report before trying mine.)


The obvious advantage to the LIFTiD device is it’s simplicity and ease of use. As I suspected this also turns out to be it’s main weakness in that you have only the default montage available.

The LIFTiD team was advised by neurosurgeon Dr. Theodore H. Schwartz. He was recently interviewed by Neurogal MD. While much of what is discussed will be familiar to DIYtDCS readers, I was interested to see that Dr. Schwartz was quick to point out what we don’t know about tDCS and neurostimulation.

The Military Discovered A Way To Boost Soldiers’ Memories, And We Tried It | Elise Hu, NPR

Have a look at the science behind DARPA research investigating the possibility of enhancing memory using tACS. Dr. Vince Walsh is the lead investigator. Elise Hu and team from NPR reporting.

In a multi-year study at the University of New Mexico, volunteers received a fraction of 9-volt battery’s worth of electrical stimulation to their scalps while they slept at the lab. When they woke up, they were asked to play a video game they had learned the day before. Turns out that subjects were significantly better at it after the night spent in the lab.

 

The potential and Limitations of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation | Marom Bikson

If you’ve been following along then most of what’s discussed in this May, 2018 lecture won’t surprise you, but it’s nicely put together and I would say, emphasizes the validation of applying stimulation while ‘doing something’ (Functional Targeting). The idea being that the stimulation then amplifies the activity of the neurons involved in the task. Though it does beg the question, What would be an appropriate task to involve a patient with in the treatment of depression? I think it’s important to note that most of what is discussed, in terms of any affects tDCS may have, remain hypothetical!

The 2019 joint meeting of Neuromodulation:The Science and NYC Neuromodulation is about to start and a page devoted to abstracts has been published. It will be updated as more info becomes available. Want a look into the future of neurostimulation? Here it is!

Dr. Brent Williams of SpeakWisdom recently published an article on the new LIFTiD tDCS device, How to Use the LIFTiD Headset for Depression Relief. The device (which is available at Caputron) has yet to be extensively reviewed but its main advantage, defined electrode placement, could also be seen as a weakness.

Tongue zapper for brain stimulation | CBC Quirks & Quarks

[Update 9/15/19] Revisiting the PoNS, Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator Device, which stimulates the tongue, after listening to Robert J. Marks interview Dr. Yuri Danilov on the Mind Matters News podcast episode Accelerating Neuroplasticity-How Natural Brain Healing Can Be Accelerated Using Stimulation.

The device is already being used at clinics in Canada for treatment of chronic balance deficit due to mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury, and is to be used in conjunction with physical therapy.

The device is manufactured by Helius, who are in the process of re-submitting to the FDA for clearance in the U.S.

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Tongue zapper for brain stimulation CBC Quirks & Quarks

In clinical studies, the PoNS device coupled with targeted functional therapy induces cranial nerve noninvasive neuromodulation (CN-NINM). Therapy consists of targeted physical, occupational and cognitive exercises, based on the patient’s deficits. (The PoNS™ Device from Helius Medical)

pons2

pons3

Non-invasive neuromodulation to improve gait in chronic multiple sclerosis: a randomized double blind controlled pilot trial
Is Your Tongue The Key To A Neuroscience Breakthrough?

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus Nerve Stimulation has been on my radar for some time but recent developments, especially in our understanding of the Brain-Gut connection have me paying more attention to what’s happening in VNS research. This post will serve as a simple introduction in hopes of inspiring your own curiosity and I’ll fill in the blanks as more information becomes available. Overview from Wikipedia: Vagus Nerve Stimulation.

From 2-Minute Neuroscience

A few more recent research articles.
Chronic Vagus Nerve Stimulation Significantly Improves Quality of Life in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression
Also known as tVNS, as in transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation
‘Tickle’ therapy could help slow aging
Effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation in individuals aged 55 years or above: potential benefits of daily stimulation

A tVNS device attaches to the ear and gently provides electrical stimulation, which rebalances the autonomic nervous system.

Could VNS affect the relationship between the brain and the gut? Very early days, as this connection is only recently being explored.
Gut branches of vagus nerve essential components of brain’s reward and motivation system
Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders

And from 2015, a paper that showed positive outcomes in a working memory study.
Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation boosts associative memory in older individuals pdf

And finally a couple of device manufacturers with products currently on the market. I have zero relation to any of these companies and am linking to them simply so you can see what the devices look like and how they are marketed. There are probably many more.
gammaCore
NEMOS
Monarch

 

Notion | Neurocity

Not tDCS, but EEG used in an new and exciting way.

At this time, she is recalling a previously trained hand gesture: a pinch with her fingers. This happens without removing her hands from the bowl to touch the screen. Just one thought.

This is exactly the case 22 seconds in. Notion detects her intent, and creates metadata that contains this information.

A split second later, thought-based intent turns into reality. As the mobile device receives the intent command created by Notion, the imagined hand gesture pattern is associated with a computer command. In this case, a scroll down event is executed. This happens repeatedly. She scrolls the page, allowing her to continue reading without lifting a finger.

From: You can now think to scroll
More at Neurocity.co
As more of these advanced, less expensive EEG chipsets come to market we can expect to see devices which merge EEG with non-invasive brain stimulation like tDCS or tACS. Applications I’ve seen discussed in the literature suggest that researchers would use specific EEG signals to trigger NIBS to specific areas. For example if the process your brain were doing at this exact moment required optimal functionality from a specific part of your brain, non-invasive stimulation would kick in to assist at that area.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is all speculative and mostly imaginationware at the moment. What I see as a trend in recent research is that the picture is in fact becoming more complicated, implying we know less than we thought we did. Further complications arise as we begin to understand how unique each of our brains are.

I’m not sure how useful a device that allows me to scroll down just by thinking of it will be to the general population. But certainly for people with physical impairments a lower cost, state of the art device that actually does something could be life-changing. Can you think of applications for the Notion that would entice you to own one? Not yet available but you can get on the get on the waiting list of request a Developer Kit here.

INSTEP Stutter / tDCS Study

Live anywhere near Oxford England and have a stutter? This study is currently recruiting.
More info: https://insteptrial.wordpress.com/

In this study, we want to see if a five-day course of tDCS combined with fluency training will improve speech fluency more than the fluency training on its own. We also want to see if such improvements are maintained over a period of three months.

The men’s tDCS study is represented in this diagram.

DIY Electrodes | Melanie Segado

[Update 7/4/19] Just noticed this excellent DIY electrode post from Vagabond Banana who seems to be embarking on a DIY tDCS build/workshop project.
Is DIY As Good As Clinical/Commercial When It Comes To tDCS Electrodes?

Melanie Segado is a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience at McGill University | CoFounder @NeuroTechX | Cellist | Currently interested in #DIY #TDCS
via Twitter @sciencelaer

tdcsMelaniSegadoElectrodes1@sciencelaer tdcsMelaniSegadoElectrodes2@sciencelaer tdcsMelaniSegadoElectrodes3@sciencelaer

Why In The World Would You Try Deep Brain Stimulation?

That’s what I remember thinking the first time I figured out that they were talking about opening your skull and planting electrodes into your brain. Then I thought… Imagine being so desperate that that would seem like a sensible next step in your course of treatment. And then I thought… Wouldn’t it be amazing if tDCS, Focused Ultrasound, or now Temporal Interference, could replicate the results without the surgery.

Recently the always excellent Invisibilia podcast covered DBS as applied to depression and OCD. We hear from the patient, her boyfriend and the doctors involved. I have a completely new understanding of the procedure and its effects. I highly recommend a listen to this episode.

Higher, Better, Stronger, Faster — Elise Hu, NPR

Nicely done (for a media outlet) six week experiment to test efficacy of HaloNeuro‘s Halo Sport tDCS device. Elise’s takeaway is that she wishes the effect was a little more dramatic. But her trainer tells her that extra 1-1/2″ is actually significant. Certainly in pro sports settings I’m sure it would be. Nice overview of hypothetical understanding of how tDCS works. She also interviews HaloNeuro co-founder Daniel Chao and Olympic volleyball athlete Kim Glass. Elise on Twitter

Why Can’t We Stimulate The Surface of the Brain Non-Invasively?

No doubt a naive question, but something I’m super-curious about.

Certain neurosurgeries require patients to remain awake in order to communicate with the surgeon. In this paper,  Cingulum stimulation enhances positive affect and anxiolysis to facilitate awake craniotomy, the authors demonstrate that stimulation of “the left dorsal anterior cingulum bundle was discovered to reliably evoke positive affect”. A low current stimulation evoked a smile and a “really good feeling”.

Many years ago, perhaps even as a boy, I saw this clip of Wilder Penfield eliciting memories from brain surgery patients, and it really stuck with me. Probably the notion of one’s entire stream of consciousness existing somewhere in the brain waiting to be unlocked with a bit of stimulation is incorrect, but nevertheless, to hear these actual recordings of patients suddenly recalling events from their past is fascinating.

My question is, Why can’t non-invasive brain stimulation, like tDCS, evoke similar responses to those outlined in these two videos? If it’s that tDCS stimulates too broadly, then perhaps something like Temporal Interference (where stimulation occurs at the point where two frequencies meet) could be used to stimulate these areas. Certainly an experiment worth thinking about.

Electric stimulation ‘a promising advancement’ for reversing memory loss | CTV

CTV : Electric stimulation ‘a promising advancement’ for reversing memory loss

From NorthwesternNow: Brain stimulation reverses age-related memory loss

“Older people’s memory got better up to the level that we could no longer tell them apart from younger people,” said lead investigator Joel Voss, associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “They got substantially better.”

We covered Joel Voss and related research in September of 2018
Stimulation Excites the Brain to Form Better Memories | NorthwesternU

Paper: Network-targeted stimulation engages neurobehavioral hallmarks of age-related memory decline

Not related directly with the research, but interesting to note in the video where Canadian researcher Jed Meltzer, a scientist at Baycrest Hospital’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto is shown demonstrating an ActivaDose device and an unusual montage.

Ed Boyden Synthetic Neurobiology

Tyler Cowen interviews Ed Boyden of MIT in this excellent interview. (Seriously, listen to this interview).

Ed Boyden is a neuroscientist and his lab, Synthetic Neurobiology Group is serving up a steady stream of cutting edge brain research. Especially of interest to DIYtDCS viewers is his involvement in a new form of non-invasive brain stimulation able to reach deep into the brain…

The method, called temporal interference, involves beaming different electric frequencies, too high for neurons to respond to, from electrodes on the skull’s surface. The team found that where the currents intersected inside the brain, the frequencies interfered with each other, essentially canceling out all but the difference between them and leaving a low-frequency current that neurons in that location responded to, Dr. Boyden said.

NEW YORK TIMES New Electrical Brain Stimulation Technique Shows Promise in Mice

Paper: Noninvasive Deep Brain Stimulation via Temporally Interfering Electric Fields

But what really caught my ear in this interview was making the connection that Dr. Boyden is working with MIT neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai. You’ll recall Dr. Tsai from earlier posts that discuss her work around treating Alzheimer’s using Gamma waves. Gamma Waves Enhance the Brain’s Immune System to Treat Mice with Alzheimer’s disease It turns out that Boyden and Tsai are working on a commercial venture that will explore this research together. The company is called Cognito Therapeutics.

Cognito Therapeutics Founders

It’s still early days for Cognito, though they are recruiting for studies. I’ll be following along closely.

HD tACS to Synchronize Medial Frontal Cortex & Lateral Prefrontal Cortex Leads to Improved Executive Function

[Update 4/19] Reinhart Lab has a new paper out that is going to attract a lot of attention. Using HD-tACS, they were able to improve Working Memory in older adults (compared to younger adults). This article nicely summarizes the experiment: Brainwave Synchronization Reverses Age-related Decline in Working Memory …HD-tACS boosted interactions between theta & gamma rhythms in left temporal cortex & synchronization of theta brainwaves between left temporal cortex and prefrontal cortex. Paper: Working memory revived in older adults by synchronizing rhythmic brain circuits.


You may have noticed that I’ve not been posting as much to the blog lately. The blog is already so full of useful content for anyone looking into tDCS that I’m inclined to only post significant information that would move our current understanding of tDCS and neurostimulation forward. This article/paper describing a new technique using ‘HD tACS’ to synchronize (brainwaves) parts of the brain definitely looks intriguing and has implications for anyone paying attention to DIY neurostimulation. Very early, but very interesting.

Prof Rob Reinhart. Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography

Full story:  “Turbo Charge” for Your Brain? by By Barbara Moran

“These (medial frontal cortex & lateral prefrontal cortex) are maybe the two most fundamental brain areas involved with executive function and self-control,” says Reinhart, who used a new technique called high-definition transcranial alternating current stimulation (HD-tACS) to stimulate these two regions with electrodes placed on a participant’s scalp. Using this new technology, he found that improving the synchronization of brain waves, or oscillations, between these two regions enhanced their communication with each other, allowing participants to perform better on laboratory tasks related to learning and self-control. Conversely, de-synchronizing or disrupting the timing of the brain waves in these regions impaired participants’ ability to learn and control their behavior, an effect that Reinhart could quickly fix by changing how he delivered the electrical stimulation. The work, published October 9, 2017, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that electrical stimulation can quickly—and reversibly—increase or decrease executive function in healthy people and change their behavior.

Here’s the paper (paywall): Disruption and rescue of interareal theta phase coupling and adaptive behavior. The supplemental pdf. describes the equipment used in the experiment.
High definition transcranial alternating current stimulation ( HD- tACS ). The alternating current stimulation was administered noninvasively using an MxN9-3 channel high definition transcranial electrical current stimulator from Soterix Medical (New York, NY). Eight sintered Ag/AgCl electrodes were attached to high-definition plastic holders, filled with conductive gel, and embedded in the Biosemi EEG cap. HD-tACS electrode placement was guided by current-flow modeling using HD- Explore and HD-Targets (Soterix Medical), with the goal of targeting the MFC and lPFC to facilitate the synchronization of neural activity between these regions (the in phase protocol ) or disrupt the signals being conveyed between the MFC and lPFC (the antiphase protocol ).

Listen to Bob McDonald discuss HD tACS with Prof Rob Reinhart on the always interesting Quirks and Quarks.

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

Foc.us v2 40hz tACS

[Update 3/18/19] Exciting news in the fight against Alzheimer’s!
Dr. Tsai has a new lab. Tsai Laboratory

In the new study, researchers added acoustic stimulation that pulsed at the same frequency as the visual stimulation. And when mice — which were bred to develop Alzheimer’s-like symptoms — were exposed to both, researchers saw that the neurons in several of their brains’ key memory circuits chimed in and began humming along at exactly the same frequency.
What came next was remarkable and unexpected, even to the authors of the study.
In the wake of the sound and light sessions, an army of newly energized immune cells descended on several areas of the treated brains, including those most affected by dementia. Then they set to work with a vengeance on some neglected housecleaning.

LA Times https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-alzheimers-brain-waves-20190315-story.html
Auditory stimulation combined with light-induced gamma oscillations in the hippocampus CA1 and auditory cortex regions of the brain reduces amyloid levels and improves memory in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.
What does 40 Hz sound like? via NYT

A Possible Alzheimer’s Treatment With Clicks and Flashes? It Worked on Mice (NYT)
Light and sound stimulus therapy generates a buzz in Alzheimer’s research world (LAT)

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[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
——— Original article
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