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Lynne Malcolm: Colleen Loo says that this transcranial direct current stimulation treatment is best used for people with clinical depression who haven’t responded to other treatments. There are very few, if any, side-effects and some participants have even noticed benefits beyond changing their moods.
Colleen Loo: Yes, and this was very exciting. So when we did our first depression trial we were measuring things like memory and thinking…you know, it was just to be safe, to check these things. And one of the things we measured was we asked people to do a test which really showed you how quickly the brain was working. And as people went through the trial they were saying things like, ‘Gee, I don’t know what kind of stimulation I’m having, but it’s almost like my brain clears and I can concentrate and think so much more clearly after the stimulation.’
So we were very excited when we got the end of the study and we formally analysed the results of the formal test, that it showed exactly what people were saying to us, that after the act of stimulation the actual thinking speed was faster, and that has led our team to develop a whole parallel line of research of using TDCS to improve memory and thinking. So our main line of research is in treating depression, but I also have a very promising young researcher who is a clinical neuropsychologist, Dr Donel Martin, who is heading a whole program of research into using this to improve memory and thinking. For example, in people who are older and who are just starting to notice some changes in their memory and thinking.