This video shows what is included with the Activadose tDCS Starter Kit from Caputron as well as a quick start guide. For more in depth look at how to use the device or to purchase this device, visit Caputron.com (As mentioned elsewhere on the blog, I have an affiliate relationship with Caputron. If you purchase any product from Caputron using code diytdcs at checkout, you will receive a discount and I will receive an affiliate fee.)
Neuroscientist Daniel Chao created a headset that hacks your brain with electricity so you can learn as fast as a kid again. It’s called Halo, and it helps you learn motor skills faster. Athletes use it; musicians too. But we’re not far from a future when Halo could help anyone master anything. Where will that take us? Host Caterina Fake leads the journey, joined by Comedian Baratunde Thurston and Quartz Editor in Chief Kevin Delaney, who help Daniel future-cast, and see his invention through the future best for humanity.
Michael was told he had reached his limit on what he could do. This was not something Michael and his partner, Jason, would accept. They began to look for other options and found Johns Hopkins Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS) as Michael’s answer to improve. Watch to learn more about Pablo Celnik and his team’s approach to setting Michael on a path to recovery.
John Hopkins Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
From a comment to the blog. Doc Johnson shares this beautiful DIY tDCS build. Thanks Doc!
I’m personally just beginning experimenting with TDCS, and as an avid DIYer, I built my own. The open designs I’ve seen seem to be a little short on features (particularly a fail-safe over-current protection), so I decided to use my background as an Electrical Engineer to start from scratch. It might be useful for others who are interested in building their own.
The design incorporates a feature that trips something equivalent to a circuit breaker if more than about 4.8mA of current flows through the electrodes. It should never happen based on the current regulator design, but I’ve seen too many pieces of silicon short out in a way that would be dangerous in this situation. I finished testing the design this weekend, and am quite happy with it. All told, the parts are about $20, not counting the hours spent designing, building, testing, redesigning…
The design and links for how I built the circuit board are located at https://www.diligent5.org/?p=1993 I built it using surface mount components because I like the tighter resistor tolerances available, but theoretically the components (or something equivalent) are available as through-hole components for the less adventurous. Cheers, Doc Johnson
First of all I need to reiterate that I am not a health professional by any means (I’m a retired musician). I was attracted to tDCS when cognitive enhancement effects were first reported back in 2012. Now years later I’m still not convinced there’s anything more than placebo going on with tDCS as far as cognitive enhancement goes, though as I’ve stated elsewhere on the blog, the research seems more conclusive around tDCS being an effective treatment for depression.
Parkinson’s is a progressive, debilitating, and at present, incurable disease that robs people of a wide variety of function, but especially movement and speech-related abilities. I have a close friend with Parkinson’s so I’ve been following the related tDCS literature. A recent study suggests that tDCS may prove to be an effective way to help with movement issues.
In Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) Over the Frontal Polar Area on Motor and Executive Functions in Parkinson’s Disease; A Pilot Study researchers at Toyama University Hospital, Japan, found that anodal tDCS improved motor function in patients with Parkinson’s. Note that this was a very small study (9 patients, early in their Parkinson’s). In this blog post I will attempt to present a DIY version of the study protocol.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first clinical research reporting that tDCS over the FPA successfully improved the motor and non-motor functions in PD patients. These findings suggest that tDCS over the FPA might be a useful alternative for the treatment of PD patients.
The first thing I noticed was that the montage (where to put the electrodes), “tDCS over the frontal polar area (FPA)” was unusual, therefore not easily verified by looking at other studies. The researchers had previously determined that stimulation of the FPA in healthy subjects improved hand dexterity (Cerebral functional imaging using near-infrared spectroscopy during repeated performances of motor rehabilitation tasks tested on healthy subjects). From the paper (my edits, for brevity and clarity in regards my purpose here)…
The stimulation current was delivered … through a pair of saline-soaked sponge electrodes (5 × 7 cm) over the frontal polar area FPA, and occipital area (OPA).
tDCS was applied for 1 week (5 times/week: Monday–Friday).
A constant current of 1.0 mA was delivered for 900 seconds (15 minutes).
During the tDCS protocol, the patients received traditional physical therapy in the upper extremities (stretching and muscle strength exercise) while sitting in a chair.
According to the 10-20 EEG system (pdf), FPA is defined as Fp1 and Fp2, and OPA is positioned near O1 and O2. Digging into the previous study I determined that they used FPZ to target FPA, and OZ to target OPA.
Yes but… what does that look like on a head? Here I’m indicating the electrode targets using the Foc.us placements head model.
(Above) Anode placed at Fpz to target the frontal polar area (FPA)
(Above) Cathode placed at Oz to target occipital area (OPA).
So basically, there you have it…
1 mA stimulation, (approx) 2″ x 2″ saline-soaked sponges, for 15 minutes placed at Anode-Fpz and Cathode-Oz, every day for five days. Note that the study participants underwent their usual regimen of physical therapy while the tDCS was being applied.
Am I suggesting you try this? No, I’m not.
I personally do intend to see if this can help my friend whose walking and talking are becoming difficult. For this reason I wanted to be as clear in my understanding of the study as possible.
These come up once in a while and I like to alert readers to Caputron specials. I’ll remove the post when I see that the special has ended. Remember to add discount code diytdcs at checkout for additional savings ( I also receive an affiliate fee when you use my discount code).
Not tDCS, but TMS -Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, another form of TES – Transcranial Electric Stimulation, that is being used both clinically (FDA approved for the treatment of depression) and as a research tool. Unlike tDCS, TMS can be of sufficient power to cause neurons to fire– imagine a finger twitching in response the the activation of the TMS device.
The video describes an experiment where researchers are attempting to improve the quality of memory encoding using TMS. The point of sharing it with you on the blog is to point out how difficult this is in fact to do. tDCS for cognitive enhancement was what initially inspired this blog, and now these six years later, I’m not sure we’re any closer to having a useful tool for cognitive enhancement of any kind, though I am reasonably confident in stating that tDCS for the treatment of depression is at least worth trying. (Other areas of research I’m more optimistic about are tDCS and Aphasia, tDCS and Parkinson’s, and tDCS for the enhancement of physical training. But in all of these the jury is still out, as there is conflicting research results.)
Note as well in the video the elaborate set up for measuring the effect of TMS in the memory study. These are often standardized tests used throughout psychology research. Unfortunately they are often costly and complicated to use. Point being that any sort of DIY cognitive enhancement experiments need to consider how effects will be measured.
Read more about the research here: Stimulation excites the brain to form better memories
Find the paper here: Selective and coherent activity increases due to stimulation indicate functional distinctions between episodic memory networks
See also: Hippocampal memory encoding and retrieval
This github project is a step-by-step manual. Anyone with a high school diploma should be able to follow it and build a TMSuino themselves. That’s what I was aiming for. TMSuino’s principle of operation is taken from a scientific paper published in the 1990s. So it is free of valid patent claims. Costs for parts, materials and shipping should be around 150,- dollars/euros. There is no soldering required! Estimated build time is 2 1/2 hours.
A comment on the blog from Martin Mueller informed me of this very interesting new arduino-based TMS device. I’ve also posted a link to the r/diytdcs Reddit page in hopes of hearing feedback from more technically-minded folks. I will update this post as info emerges. TMSuino3 seems to be loosely based on the work of Steen Dissing whose device we looked at in 2015 (see below) where it’s referred to as Transcranial Pulsating Electro Magnetic Fields therapy or t-PEMF.
The Introduction to the github article collects the author’s frustrations and suspicions around transparency in the bipolar research community and basically comes away from the experience hypothesizing what sounds like a conspiracy. Wait, big pharma and medical device companies manipulating the market to ensure maximum profit? Either way, he shares an article that confirms Steen Dissing’s frustration in getting his device accepted and adopted for treatment of depression in Denmark. An Inventor’s Triumph and Frustration.
It turns out a medical grade device has been developed and approved for treatment of depression in Denmark. The Re5, made by Navamedic. There are a collection of research papers linked to at their site.
————————– Original 2015 article.
Thanks to reader Jerico for alerting me to this. Transcranial Pulsating Electro Magnetic Fields therapy is new to me. It does not seem to be experiencing anywhere near the level of research activity that is going on around tDCS. Some of the research I’m finding dates from 2001 (though the BBC article the quote is from and linked to below is from 2014). But just to have it on our radar, and because the helmet looks so cool…
“The helmet is amazing,” said Annemette Ovlisen, a graphic artist who suffered recurrent depression for 16 years and a participant in the Hillerod trials.
It’s like the fog lifts. It was like somebody hit the reset button.”The device contains seven coils that deliver a dose of Transcranial Pulsating Electro Magnetic Fields (T-PEMF) to brain tissues.The pulses are so minute that the patient cannot detect any sensation, and the only side effect so far is occasional “tiny” nausea that immediately disappears after treatment.
Prof Steen Dissing, of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health Sciences is the helmet’s principal architect.
He said: “The device mimics electrical fields in the brain, and triggers the body’s own healing mechanism.”
The pulses activate capillaries in the brain, which form new blood vessels and secrete growth hormones.
Robin is the founder of Caputron which is a distributor of tDCS and other TES devices. Here he demonstrates the Activadose II tDCS device. For reasons mentioned elsewhere on the blog, this is the device I recommend (this is an FDA approved – for Iontophoresis – device. I’d suggest the 2mA model with the 3×3 sponge set – this is closest to what most research studies use). Caputron provides DIYtDCS readers a generous discount (I also earn a referral fee) when you use discount code ‘diytdcs’ at checkout (for any product offered by Caputron). I interviewed Robin back in 2015 when he was first getting started. Check out that post here.
This tweet, posted August 3, 2018, reminded me of Bashar W. Badran’s study (story below from 2017). Following along in the links I see that Badran has been testing a new ‘e-meditation’ device called Zendo. It’s currently not available to the general public, but you can see it in action in the photos below the tweet. You can sign up to be notified when the device becomes available here: https://e-meditation.com/about
E-meditation @ NYC Neuromodulation+NANS Conference
Read about E-mediation: https://t.co/7UKN3vc1Z2
Register for the meeting his week for best rates: https://t.co/JcMA83lY8Q
— Marom Bikson (@MaromBikson) August 3, 2018
Supercharge your zen (pdf) The benefits of yoga and meditation are plentiful, but they take years of dedicated practice to achieve. Could a zap to the brain offer a shortcut?
I had previously posted this in a comment. Sourced from the original study.
Each 20min E- meditation visit consisted of one of three randomized stimulation conditions (sham, active 1mA, or 2mA; anode – EEG F8, cathode – left supraorbital) delivered via a Chatanooga IontoTM stimulator and 2in x 2in sponge electrodes. Stimulation was synchronized with a guided mindfulness recording (recorded by ELG) lasting 20min.
Which is what’s depicted in the photo below.
Original article posted 2/12/17
Full article: Is e-meditation wave of the future?
Badran, who used two different mindfulness scales and mood rating scales on 15 participants in a double-blind study, found that feelings of calmness increased almost 2.5 times in the group receiving active tDCS-paired meditation compared to the placebo. Individuals receiving the sham stimulation had just a 5 percent increase in calmness rating.
Update 8/2/18 Looks like the ActivaDose device special has ended but the Muse is still on sale. (If you’d like to receive an email when I notice special tDCS-related deals, please sign up for updates – in the sidebar.)
Update 7/25/18. I bumped this post to the top to alert readers to some very interesting deals Caputron is currently running.
I will remove this when the specials end but at the moment you can purchase the ActivaDose Starter kit for $349, down from $399! Get an additional discount when you use discount code diytdcs at checkout! (At this time anyway, previously it’s been removed on specials.) They also have the Muse EEG headband on sale at $199, that’s $50 off. Not sure how long these specials will last. If you’ve been looking to acquire either of these devices here’s an opportunity to do so at a great price.
Robin at Caputron recently informed me of some new products they’re carrying including the Focus v3. The Focus v3 duplicates the functionality of the v2 (tRNS, tPCS, tACS and tDCS), but adds additional features such as what Focus calls ‘tRCS’, Transcranial Rippled Current Stimulation… as I understand it, a form of transcranial alternating current stimulation that targets multiple frequencies over time. tRCS is something new, invented by Focus, and therefore we have no scientific research to support its use at this time, but it looks very interesting. Considering the variety of stimulation modes the v3 supports, this is the obvious choice for anyone wanting to replicate research in the tACS and tRNS literature. Read more about the Focus v3 here: Instructions Guide.
Caputron is currently shipping the v3 with a variety of electrode options but the base unit is priced at $399. Use coupon code diytdcs at checkout for a generous discount on any product purchased from Caputron.
If you’re looking for a more ‘traditional’ type tDCS device, I recommend Caputron’s ActivaDose II tDCS Starter Kit. This is an FDA approved device (NOT for tDCS, but for iontophoresis, point being the electronics and manufacturing are at an FDA approved level). Note that the ActivaDose from Caputron comes as either an 80 Volt/4 mA Max unit, or a 29 Volt/2 mA Max. The cautious user would choose the 29 Volt model, as 2 mA is the maximum current used in most scientific studies. If you want a simple device your Mom could use, this is the way to go. Again, Use coupon code diytdcs at checkout for a generous discount.
Caputon is now carrying the Muse EEG device. They also carry more sophisticated research devices like those by Soterix. You can even purchase a TMS device through them. They have expert support and a great reputation.
Stimulating the Creative Brain | Morten Friis-Olivarius | TEDxOslo
PlatoWork neurostimulation device manual.
Shown here (from the video) working on the PlatoWork prototype. Note montage which according to the talk, would be focused on increasing creativity. In the video he calls the stimulation TES (Transcranial Electric Stimulation).
“Creative people somehow forget to turn off the spontaneous system while thye’re working on a task”.
A later prototype.
From the manual.
Aha, so there are 3 electrodes. And the placement resembles another study I’m aware of that used tACS to enhance creativity. (Functional role of frontal alpha oscillations in creativity). In that study…
Stimulation electrodes were positioned bilaterally over the frontal cortex (centered on EEG electrode locations F3 and F4) with a common electrodeover the apex (Cz).
But the PlatoScience FAQ clearly states they’re using tDCS.
At PlatoScience we use a version of neurostimulation called tDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation).
So here we have the first (to my knowledge) commercially available (€399) TES device designed specifically to enhance creativity. Interestingly, PlatoScience has a forum and test site (according to the video) where users can discuss their experience. The device is operated via smart phone.
Adam Gazzaley and Parneet Pal, Chief Science Officer of Wisdom Labs, discuss the challenges of the modern world for our ancient brains, how to become aware of, and overcome, the interference of distraction and multitasking, and the new era of digital medicine. Conversation includes: The critical elements of what it means to be human, ethical design of technology, the cascading effect of cognitive challenges, and harnessing neuroplasticity through experience to develop stronger brains…
The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley (Amazon link)
Akili, the business end of Gazzaley’s research aims to build ‘experiential treatments’, delivered through video games, “…as medicine–as prescribable, reimbursable medicine, right up there with pharmaceuticals”. The patent is not for a video game, the patent is for a game engine… Akili now has a dozen studies going on across multiple clinical conditions. From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to Traumatic Brain Injury to anxiety to Autism, depression, early Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis… The study which has garnered the most attention was the completion of our Phase 3 trial for Pediatric ADHD… What was shown was that we were able to significantly, with a reasonable effect size, improve attention ability in children with ADHD. Now advancing an application to the FDA for their class 2 medical device for the treatment of inattention in children with ADHD.
If we’re successful, it will be the first non-drug treatment for ADHD. The first prescribable video game, and the first of a new category of medicine that we think of as digital medicine, to treat a host of different conditions of the mind.
Current state of tDCS at an introductory level.
Intro to, basics of tDCS.
Understanding Noninvasive Brain Stimulation with Dr Marom Bikson NeuroGal