This instructional video demonstrates the correct way to measure and place electrodes. In a clinical setting, with a medical grade tDCS device (Soterix), a subject is measured for electrode placement on the primary motor cortex. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex region is also shown. This is the first time I’ve seen the video on Youtube (making it easy to share). Previously it could only be found here, where an associated pdf which includes illustrations is also made available.
This is an incredibly well-researched paper. All the nuance of FDA regulation around tDCS and similar devices is made clear. I’ve been picking away at trying to understand this myself, but had become extremely frustrated by the complexity and opacity of FDA jargon and legalese. Anna has collected all the relevant facts and applied them very close to home citing specific devices and situations the DIY tDCS crowd will be familiar with. Anna Wexler is the author as well of The practices of do-it-yourself brain stimulation: implications for ethical considerations and regulatory proposals (gated) . She spoke to myself and at least a handful of other reddit.com/r/tDCS contributors for that paper. In both papers she lays out a very sensible approach to regulating tDCS, or rather, not regulating it. Stating that there is already a body of relevant law stemming from various government agencies (in the U.S.) that could be called upon to regulate tDCS device use as needed.
This paper contributes to the literature on the regulation of consumer brain stimulation devices in the USA by providing a fact-based analysis of the consumer tDCS market and relevant laws and regulations. In the first section, I present a short history of the DIY tDCS movement and the subsequent emergence of DTC devices. In the second and third sections, I outline the basics of FDA medical device regulation and discuss how the definition of a medical device—which focuses on the intended use of the device rather than its mechanism of action—is of paramount importance for discussions of consumer tDCS device regulation. I then discuss how both the FDA and the courts have understood the FDA’s jurisdiction over medical devices in cases where the meaning of ‘intended use’ has been challenged. In the fourth section, I analyse the only instance of tDCS regulatory action to date, in which the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) forced a firm to recall several hundred consumer tDCS devices. Although there exists a common perception that the FDA has not been involved with the regulation of consumer tDCS devices, the California case demonstrates that the CDPH’s actions were instigated by an FDA engineer. Finally, I discuss the multiple US authorities, other than the FDA, that can regulate consumer brain stimulation devices.
Marketing language from the websites of consumer tDCS devices available for purchase as of June 2015.
Oxley said a paper published in Nature last year, which showed lucid dreams could be induced through stimulating gamma waves in a sleeping person, inspired a lot of customers to try to use foc.us in the same way. So the foc.us team wrote a new program specifically designed to try to ellicit lucid dreams.
“A positive charge will excite a part of the brain and a negative current will sort of turn off that part of the brain,” Oxley said. “The higher function areas at the front of the brain are active during lucid dreams, so the idea is that if we excite that while people are dreaming, they’ll have a greater chance of having a lucid dream.”
Oxley said he uses the device nearly every night, and while it doesn’t always work, when it does it’s very exciting. Unfortunately, my experience was not quite so thrilling. Though the lucid dream program on the foc.us delivers a relatively low electrical current of 1.5 milliamps, it was too high for me. The electrodes immediately started to sting my skin and I had to take them off after about three seconds. So, I enlisted my less-sensitive coworkers to test it out, but the results were just as disappointing.
An overwhelming amount of tDCS-related information is about to descend upon us.
Neuroscience 2015 will take place October 17-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Join more than 30,000 colleagues from more than 80 countries at the world’s largest marketplace of ideas and tools for global neuroscience.
Here’s a small sample of some of the tDCS-related presentations/abstracts that caught my eye. (Unfortunately I can’t link to my search results so I also scraped the page so you can see for yourself here.)
Indirectly related to tDCS but a fascinating new paper attempts to understand how the frontal cortex is responsible for cognitive control.
“Surprisingly,” Bassett said, “our results suggest that the human brain resembles a flock of birds. The flock comes to a consensus about which way to fly based on how close the birds are to one another and in what formation. Birds that fly at specific places in the flock can drive changes in the flock’s direction, being leaders in a so-called multi-agent system.
“We’re very interested in controlling brain networks with techniques like optogenetics, transcranial magnetic or direct-current stimulation, deep brain stimulation or even neurofeedback,” Bassett said, “but the problem has been that there is little theoretical basis to determine how these stimulations affect the dynamics of the whole brain. In most cases, stimulation is applied via trial and error. This research helps to build up an understanding of the impact of stimulation in one region on cognition as a whole.”
Future research will test whether “wiring” differences between people predict their performance on cognitive tasks. It will also underpin work on therapeutic and adaptive technologies that capitalize on brain networks’ unique advantages over their computerized counterparts.