In the last couple years, tDCS has been all over the news. Researchers claim that juicing the brain with just 2 milliamps (think 9-volt battery) can help with everything from learning languages, to quitting smoking, to overcoming depression. We bring Michael Weisend, neuroscientist at Wright State Research Institute, into the studio to tell us how it works (Bonus: you get to hear Jad get his brain zapped). Peter Reiner and Nick Fitz of the University of British Columbia help us think through the consequences of a world where anyone with 20 dollars and access to Radioshack can make their own brain zapper. And finally, Sally tells us about the unexpected after-effects of a day of super-charged sniper training and makes us wonder about world where you can order up a state of mind.
The Cognitive Kit is a hand held Cognitive Enhancement Device. Simple to use, with safe, effective, sponge electrodes, the Cognitive Kit includes everything that is necessary for a cognitive enhancement session. We will be releasing the first production run in Mid July.
Brain imaging suggested that the best way to do this would be to stimulate the motor cortex while the volunteer was doing the task. But McKinley and his team added a twist: after the stimulation, they use tDCS in reverse to inhibit the volunteers’ prefrontal cortex, which is involved in conscious thinking. The day after the stimulation, the volunteers are brought back for re-testing. “The results we’re getting are fantastic,” McKinley says. People getting a hit of both mid-test and inhibitory stimulation did 250% better in their retests, far outperforming those who had received neither. Used in this way, it seems that tDCS can turbo-boost the time it takes for someone to go from being a novice at a task to being an expert.