I think of Vincent Walsh as the most skeptical of the tDCS researchers. You can get a clear understanding of his doubts and concerns in this video from the Davis Summit on tDCS from 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fz7r8VDV4o
However, Vincent Walsh, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London, is less convinced. “This is an important paper,” he says, especially because it casts doubt on the aspect of this research that until now had been assumed to be the most robust – the physiology.
“In terms of cognition, which is the other aspect that people make claims about, tDCS is massively hyped. The danger is that people have been promised better memories, better reading, better maths, increased intelligence… you name it. The effects are small, short lasting, and no substantial claims have been replicated across laboratories. This paper is hopefully the beginning of a counterweight to all the bullshit.”
via Has the brain-zap backlash begun? – health – 28 November 2014 – New Scientist.
I wonder what factors led to this… Because the company was incorporated in California? Was there a complaint? News story catch the eye of someone at the DCPH? Have other manufacturers seen this and as a result done things differently? From June of 2013.
TDCS Device Kit, Inc. of Petaluma, Calif., is voluntarily recalling the TDCS Home Device Kits because the product has not been federally approved to market in the United States, and has not been determined to be safe and effective for their intended use. During a recent inspection, CDPH determined that the devices had not been manufactured in compliance with good manufacturing practices for medical devices. Also, the devices were found to be labeled without adequate directions for use and without adequate warnings against uses that may be dangerous to health.
Use of the device could pose a health risk including, but not limited to: epileptic seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, optic and otic nerve injuries, skin irritation, headaches, blurred vision, and dizziness. No illnesses or injuries have been reported at this time.
via CDPH Warns Consumers Not to Use TDCS Home Device Kit.
Surprised I hadn’t seen this before. it does seem like we’re at a time with tDCS where animal studies could reveal a lot. I’ll be adding BDNF to my research list.
By way of a tDCS thread on 4Chan!
“Especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, where everyone is a hacker of some type or the other…you’ve got a lot of people who don’t have any qualms about hooking some electrical thing to their head where they may not know how it works,” said Jared Seehafer.
But before you scrounge around for parts…
“I sure wouldn’t put anything I made for $25 on my head and turn on the switch,” says Stanford Law & Bio-sciences Director Hank Greely, who specializes in the ethical, legal and social implications of these new technologies. “Before you run volts through your brain, um, I think it’s really important to try to make sure that it’s safe and it’s effective.”
via Forget Coffee, Techies Giving Brain An Electric Jolt To Stay More Focused « CBS San Francisco.
You’re more likely to know Nathan Whitmore as /u/ohsnapitsnathan, one of the moderators at the tDCS subReddit. Around making plans to attend NYC Neuromodulation Conference 2015, he’s started a GoFundMe campaign and announced an early Beta of his tDCS device, BrainKit. It’s a very ambitious project! He plans to include sensors that would monitor brain activity using capacitance (Electrical Capacitance Volume Tomography)! The BrainKit would then generate optimal montages for specific desired effects! It’s Arduino based, and Nathan intends for it to be Open Source. It’s very early in the BrainKit’s development, but it appears to me that all the pieces are in place.
A feature new to BrainKit is the ability to act on this information by designing a montage. BrainKit’s montage designing algorithm is actually quite simple, and based on the principles that:
1. If increased performance on a psychometric measure is associated with higher excitability in a cortical area, BrainKit will deliver anodal stimulation to that area, if decreased excitability is associated with increased performance then BrainKit will use cathodal stimulation.
2. If functional connectivity between two electrodes is positively associated with good performance, anodal stimulation is delivered to both electrodes, if it is negatively associated with good performance then cathodal stimulation is applied to both electrodes.
3. If any electrode conflicts exist the previous two rules cause one electrodes to be marked for both anodal and cathodal stimulation, that electrode is excluded from the montage.
Hi! I’m Nathan Whitmore, AKA /u/ohsnapitsnathan . I design open-source, DIY brain stimulators OpenStim and BrainKit and I moderate Reddit’s brain stimulator forum. I’m raising money to go to the New York Neuromodulation conference this January and talk about open-source brain stimulators and the DIY community!
WHY: While I currently work in a research lab studying how the brain controls attention, I’m really a tDCS DIYer at heart—I built my first tDCS unit two years ago, when I was in college, and started working on OpenStim a few months later. What these experiences made me aware of is that there’s a large and growing communication gap between people who research tDCS, and the vast majority of those who actually use it. That’s bad for everyone, because it means that what we research and what we actually care about start to diverge.
via Help me go to NYC Neuromodulation by Nathan Whitmore – GoFundMe.
I will focus on the key unknowns in brain stimulation research:
1. The unknown effects of stimulation;
2. The unknown side-effects of stimulation;
3. The lack of clear dosing guidelines;
4. The lack of translational studies from adults to children.
I will set out these “known unknowns” in translating our knowledge about TMS and tDCS effects to clinical pediatric applications, and touch on the practical and ethical barriers to their widespread usage.
via Frontiers | Transcranial stimulation of the developing brain: a plea for extreme caution | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
I have always excelled at learning languages, currently I am fluent in English my native tongue , French, German and Spanish. Ever since I was a little kid I found it fascinating to learn new, complex and rare words and spelling them out. I had this almost 6th sense for their structure. This applied to every language that I tried to learn.I started tDCS 2 months ago and did the common fp2 f3 montage. Since then I have had real trouble with spelling words, I find myself – for the first time in my life – having to google how to spell even the most simple and everyday words. It’s excruciatingly frustrating and saddening. I was hoping for a career in language and writing, but that dream seems bleak now.
via Did tDCS give me dyslexia? : tDCS.
Wood said he uses tDCS while playing improvisational jazz piano and the stimulation helps to increase his overall focus while playing.
“The first time I tried it, I immediately noticed an effect,” Wood said. “You get a light that blinks in the corner of your eyes, [which is] just the exciting of the optical nerves, and I also felt a metallic feeling in the back of my mouth.”
via DIY devices jolt brain, improve function – The Columbia Chronicle: Health & Tech.
For me this insight (that Dr Fried observed a specific memory attached to a single neuron spike) suggests the question: What about smaller electrodes? Current would have to be reduced to match the proven safety of larger electrode/currency-densities, but if a memory can associate to a single neuron perhaps there are novel hypotheses to be explored using tDCS.
Scientists can, as Dr. Fried did, see a single neuron spiking. There are fancy machines, fMRI scans, that can take fuzzy pictures of whole neighborhoods of hundreds of thousands of neurons being active. But if we want to see a memory of Jennifer Aniston forming in my head, first as two, then four, then ten, then 50, then 100, then 1,000 neurons flashing messages to each other forming a pattern — that we can’t see. We haven’t the tools.
The way to do it, says Seung in his new book Connectome is we should build a brain map. This map should let us see each and every neuron in a bit of my brain, the bigger the neighborhood, the more we will see. One day Seung would like to map an entire human brain, that’s 80 billion neurons with roughly a 100 trillion connections between them.
via Neuroscientists Battle Furiously Over Jennifer Aniston : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR.
See Also: Memories and Volition – Insights from Single Neuron Recordings in the Human Brain Itzhak Fried
Not tDCS but fascinating…
Medtronic [a medical device manufacturer] will be developing a 256-channel brain stimulator, not only to stimulate but to record and analyze brain activity and [to] try to modify and synthesize it within the brain.
The ultimate goal is to send patients with memory disorders home with a device implanted into their brain to improve their memory.
How will the study work?
The 256-channel device will be far more than a brain stimulator. It will be an intelligent device that continuously monitors brain function for signals that indicate how well our memory system is operating. As it tracks these signals, in real time, it will use mathematical models of brain function to determine whether and how to stimulate at each of these locations. By cycling very rapidly between recording, analyzing and stimulating, it will try to continuously maintain good memory function in patients with neurological injury or disease.
via Study set for brain stimulation device to help restore memory – The Washington Post.
Their (Thync) technology is about proprietary neurosignaling waveforms that target neural pathways via a triad: BRAIN: prefrontal and frontoparietal brain regions; NERVES: sensory fibers of cranial nerves; and MUSCLE: neuromuscular fibers, according to their site. Fundamentally, this is, in the words of CNN’s Heather Kelly, “a portable headset that will offer three settings to start: energy, relaxation and focus.” Isy Goldwasser, the company CEO, said in CNN, “For some people it would be their third cup of coffee, for some people it would be their afternoon nap.” Cofounder and CSO Jamie Tyler, a professor at Arizona State University, said in MIT Technology Review that the device can produce “a calming effect more potent than drinking a couple of beers or taking Benadryl. “As for the energizing effect, Bullis said the “short-lived” energizing effect “feels a little like drinking a can of Red Bull.”
via Wearable for state-of-mind shift set for 2015.
Leadam, 25, founded The Brain Stimulator, a brain stimulation kit-selling business he started in his mother’s California garage. He said he first heard about tDCS in college, and used it as a learning aid to study for a final.“
I don’t really retain textual-based information that well, so I decided to try out the tDCS device while I read to see if it would help me remember,” he said. “The next day when I went in to take the test, I thought I was going to fail, but it turned out that I got an A. And I actually remember looking at the questions and remembering the concepts down to the very paragraph they were located in the book.”
Such brain stimulation is unregulated and not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but that hasn’t stopped it from going mainstream. Dozens of videos on YouTube show people with their own DIY devices, including video gamers who believe their skills have improved by hooking themselves up to tDCS kits.
Leadam says he sells between 25 and 50 of his $90 brain stimulation devices per day, with his mother, uncle and even his grandmother stepping into his home office to help him meet demand. Although his site includes the warning, “The Brain Stimulator is not a medical device,” and “The results are from our findings and may be incomplete and/or completely wrong! Do not view this data as absolute fact,” Leadam says he sees demand for brain stimulation as only growing.
via DIY Brain-Shock Kits Jump Start Users’ Day – ABC News.