Neuroelectrics wants to be Fitbit for the brain

We met Ana in our first podcast interview.

Maiques compares Neuroelectrics to the “DIY” ethos of health-tracking technology, such as Fitbit and other wearables. “We have an ageing population dealing with chronic illnesses, but people are also becoming more self-aware when it comes to monitoring their health. We believe these self-monitoring technologies are going to become popular in the home over the next few years.”

Source: Neuroelectrics wants to be Fitbit for the brain

BBC – Future – Concentrate! How to tame a wandering mind (October 2014)

Not tDCS. It looks like TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) but I’ve not heard of TMS being applied for more than short bursts before. Also of note in the article is the description of their target:

Their training programme targets the brain’s ‘dorsal attention network’, which links regions of the prefrontal cortex – the bit of the brain above the eyes that helps us make decisions – and the parietal cortex, the ‘switchboard’ for our senses, which is above and slightly behind the ears.


(Caroline Williams)The pulses were aimed at my left prefrontal lobe, to dampen the activity there (Caroline Williams)When I get to the stimulation the next day, it’s not as bad as I feared. At least not at first. For the first minute or so it feels a bit like popping candy is going off under my skull. Five minutes in, though, and it’s seriously annoying – like the worst school bully ever repeatedly flicking me on the head.In all, I have two eight-minute-long sessions of magnetic stimulation, each followed by a 12-minute-long session of computer-based training. I also do three 12-minute blocks of training twice a day, over the internet, wherever my laptop and I happen to be.

Source: BBC – Future – Concentrate! How to tame a wandering mind

Quick, to the rat cave! — Montage Explorer, a search engine for brain…

Nathan Whitmore just launched a tDCS search engine!

The goal of Montage Explorer is slightly different from that of a traditional montage website. While most of these sites attempt to provide details one a montage used in one or two studies, the goal of Montage Explorer is to provide an aggregate view and summary of all the research on a particular montage (including side effects that are discovered in studies by other authors and “null results” where an effect fails to replicate) and provide access to the original results and publications, using automated analysis of articles published on noninvasive brain stimulation.


Augmentation of cognitive brain functions with transcranial lasers

I was inspired to revisit this paper today after reading a fascinating post on by member, Lostfalco, an avid, one might venture to say extreme, proponent of self-experimenting. Here’s another very thorough post on by Joseph Cohen. And Gwern weighs in! Low-level light/laser therapy (LLLT) works in an entirely different way than tDCS. Feeling like I have a lot of reading ahead of me. I will begin to share more research as it becomes available. Check out the video below for a basic understanding of the process.

Cognitive and emotional functions
LLLT via commercial low-power sources (such as FDA-cleared laser diodes and LEDs) is a highly promising, affordable, non-pharmacological alternative for improving cognitive function. LLLT delivers safe doses of light energy that are sufficiently high to modulate neuronal functions, but low enough to not result in any damage.  In 2002, the FDA approved LLLT for pain relief in cases of head and neck pain, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. LLLT has been used non-invasively in humans after ischemic stroke to improve neurological outcome. It also led to improved recovery and reduced fatigue after exercise. One LLLT stimulation session to the forehead, as reported by Schiffer et al. (2009), produced a significant antidepressant effect in depressed patients. No adverse side effects were found either immediately or at 2 or 4 weeks after LLLT. Thus, these beneficial LLLT treatments have been found to be safe in humans. Even though LLLT has been regarded as safe and received FDA approval for pain treatment, the use of transcranial lasers for cognitive augmentation should be restricted to research until further controlled studies support this application for clinical use.

via Augmentation of cognitive brain functions with transcranial lasers.

In this video LLLT is described as a treatment for damaged tissue. In the paper above, the same process is used to ‘augment brain function’.

Scientists Use Brain Stimulation to Boost Creativity

Flavio Frohlich photo Donn Young

Sounds like some kind of tACS. Will try to follow-up with more info.
See Also: Your Brain on Electricity

For the Cortex study, Frohlich’s team enrolled 20 healthy adults. Researchers placed electrodes on each side of each participant’s frontal scalp and a third electrode toward the back of the scalp. This way, the 10-Hertz alpha oscillation stimulation for each side of the cortex would be in unison. This is a key difference in Frohlich’s method as compared to other brain stimulation techniques.
Each participant underwent two sessions. During one session, researchers used a 10-Hertz sham stimulation for just five minutes. Participants felt a little tingle at the start of the five minutes. For the next 25 minutes, each participant continued to take the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, a comprehensive and commonly used test of creativity. In one task, each participant was shown a small fraction of an illustration – sometimes just a bent line on a piece of paper. Participants used the line to complete an illustration, and they wrote a title when they finished.
In the other session each participant underwent the same protocol, except they were stimulated at 10 Hertz for the entire 30 minutes while doing the Torrance test. The tingling sensation only occurred at the start of the stimulation, ensuring that each participant did not know which session was the control session.
Because rating creativity or scoring a test can involve subjectivity, Frohlich sent each participant’s work to the company that created the test. “We didn’t even tell the company what we were doing,” Frohlich said. “We just asked them to score the tests.
”Then Frohlich’s team compared each participant’s creativity score for each session. He found that during the 30-minute stimulation sessions, participants scored an average 7.4 percentage points higher than they did during the control sessions.

via Scientists Use Brain Stimulation to Boost Creativity.
link to paper: (paywall)

My brain on electricity: A 130 day tDCS experiment

Reddit user ADifferentDrum posted the results of his informal long term dual n back/tDCS training research project. Links below to full article.

In an informal experiment aimed at improving memory and attention, I stimulated various regions of my brain using tDCS therapy for 130 sessions over 135 days while simultaneously completing the working memory task dual n back. Each session lasted about 30 minutes. I found that my scores significantly improved both during “live” tDCS treatment and also during intermittent “off” stimulation memory task sessions. I had previously done the dual n back task thousands of trials over the course of two years so the improvement in performance cannot be attributed to practice effects alone. Just as some of the literature suggests, I found that tDCS can improve a very specific skill (in this case “brain game” performance), but the jury is still out as to what benefits, if any does tDCS have in improving other skills outside of training…

130 day stimulation schedule

EEG Position Description Duration
P4 Right Parietal 15 days
P3 Left Parietal 15 days
F3 Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex 30 days
FP2 Right Frontal Pole 15 days
FP1 Left Frontal Pole 15 days
F3/FP1 (revisiting regions) Left DLPFC/Left Poles 10 days
T4 Right Temporal Lobe 15 days
T3 Left Temporal Lobe 15 days

via My brain on electricity: A 130 day tDCS experiment.

Longitudinal Neurostimulation in Older Adults Improves Working Memory | PLOS ONE


Modeling of current flow when applying 1.5 mA tDCS for F4 anodal (top) and P4 anodal (bottom) stimulation and the cathodal electrode placed on the contralateral cheek.

Important study. 72 older participants, average age 64 showed improvement in working memory tasks but also (and this is a big deal where it comes to cognitive enhancement) significant transfer (where improvements are seen in other tasks not specifically trained for). These results run counter to other recent studies and beg the question of whether the participant’s age was a factor. i.e. Is tDCS more effective for aging brains? That would be a big deal. [See Also: tDCS selectively improves working memory in older adults with more education]  And thanks to PLOS ONE we can all read the full paper (linked below)

The results demonstrated that all groups benefited from WM training, as expected. However, at follow-up 1-month after training ended, only the participants in the active tDCS groups maintained significant improvement. Importantly, this pattern was observed for both trained and transfer tasks. These results demonstrate that tDCS-linked WM training can provide long-term benefits in maintaining cognitive training benefits and extending them to untrained tasks.

Interesting, the location of the reference (cathodal) electrode was opposite cheek.

In all conditions, one electrode was placed over the target location at either F4 or P4 (International 10–20 EEG system) and the reference electrode was placed on the contralateral cheek.

via PLOS ONE: Longitudinal Neurostimulation in Older Adults Improves Working Memory.

Keep Calm and Carry On: Improved Frustration Tolerance and Processing Speed by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) | PLOS ONE

tdcsKeepCalmCC stands for cognitive control. In this study 28 participants took a PASAT test (try one yourself online the better you do the harder it gets). They also reported their state of mind, (PANAS) both before and after the PASAT test. Participants who received tDCS to dlPFC (dorsalateral prefrontal cortext) showed increased cognitive control and less stress from the test itself.

With this study, we provide first evidence that the enhancement of activity in the left prefrontal cortex by anodal tDCS during an adaptively challenging attention task improves performance parallel to, and in correlation with the suppression of specific task-induced negative affect. These data can be interpreted as a tDCS-supported shift of processing resources towards task-oriented performance away from preoccupation with task-related negative affect and cognition. Thereby they extend the notion of enhanced CC by prefrontal activation to internally generated distress-related distractors. More specifically, by demonstrating that tDCS-induced higher performance is associated with a lesser degree of feeling ‘upset’ with the task, these data may exemplify a subjective, experiential aspect of enhanced CC in challenging operations. Not least, these findings substantially support the concept of a tDCS-enhanced CC training as a new pathophysiology-based treatment approach of disorders associated with dysfunctional CC

tDCS seems to be (they say ‘might’), allowing our focus network to overpower the feedback network thereby shutting out the negative feedback (those self-doubting voices).

Since processing in the brain is highly competitive with different pathways mediating different aspects of information, the winners are those with the strongest sources of support [11]. Accordingly, increased activation of the dlPFC by anodal tDCS might strengthen its function to avert attention from affective reactions induced by performance errors and thus maintain goal-directed processing.

via PLOS ONE: Keep Calm and Carry On: Improved Frustration Tolerance and Processing Speed by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).

Upcoming Events: Hawaii BrainSTIM 2015

BrainSTIM 2015 will be the first ever meeting focused on the combination of brain imaging and stimulation. The meeting will have keynote lectures by leaders in the fields of imaging and stimulation, talks selected from submitted abstracts, educational sessions on integrated brain stimulation and imaging, poster sessions and other opportunities to network. The meeting is designed to inform and educate all who are interested in these topics, from novices to experts. [Get more info]

Click here to register now
Start: June 12, 2015
End: June 13, 2015

via Upcoming Events Hawaii BrainSTIM 2015.