Jump-Starter Kits for the Mind – NYTimes.com

Yes, the promise of tDCS and yet… having just listened to 6 or so hours of leading edge tDCS science I’d have to say we are actually farther away from the dream of simple and easy cognitive enhancement than when I first became interested. Things like… What if 2mA doesn’t have twice the effect of 1mA, but has an entirely different effect altogether? What if the differences in the shapes of people’s heads renders any notion of standard current flow a ludicrous idea? What if most of the experiments on which we base our understanding of tDCS were poorly designed and in fact don’t tell us anything like what they say they do? Did you know that the standard tDCS dose of 1-2mA was a ‘historical accident’? Certainly the questions are becoming finely focused and it does look to me like some very smart scientists are highly motivated to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on. Stay tuned!

Whether it’s hitting a golf ball, playing the piano or speaking a foreign language, becoming really good at something requires practice. Repetition creates neural pathways in the brain, so the behavior eventually becomes more automatic and outside distractions have less impact. It’s called being in the zone.

But what if you could establish the neural pathways that lead to virtuosity more quickly? That is the promise of transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS β€” the passage of very low-level electrical current through targeted areas of the brain. Several studies conducted in medical and military settings indicate tDCS may bring improvements in cognitive function, motor skills and mood.

Jump-Starter Kits for the Mind – NYTimes.com.

3 thoughts on “Jump-Starter Kits for the Mind – NYTimes.com

  1. I think it may be a bit too late to be getting cold feet. XD

    I mean sure, what if this or what if that, but as someone who has been having trouble with subclinical depression for years, I’ve confirmed tdcs as being useful even without any further research.
    If all we had, and would continue to have, was a 9V battery and the standard placement of trodes, it would save and improve lives.

    • You remind me to be clearer. My comment was in the context of cognitive enhancement, which was what attracted me to tDCS. There are many first-hand accounts of tDCS being effective in self-treating depression. Self-treating depression using tDCS makes sense to me in that if you’ve been living with with a chronic condition you’re certainly going to know that “something’s working”. Yes I do think your’s and mrdmrd’s stories are compelling and there is a large and growing body of scientific research also that supports tDCS as a treatment for depression.

      • πŸ™‚ Anyway, I think that the “safeness” of tdcs has been quite well established, which means any effect created is temporary.
        So even if you use a suboptimal configuration, and inhibit certain cognitive functions, I’m sure it’s not the end of the world. While I wouldn’t really go around tell people to experiment on their own brains, I think what our culture needs is a good dose of healthy adventurousness. We’re far too cautious and afraid for our own good.
        I look up to the gentleman adventurer spirit of the great XIX. century researchers. πŸ™‚

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