Electroceuticals: the Shocking Future of Brain Zapping | Motherboard

Okay, I think we’re on the edge of a shift in thinking. Here’s prof. Bikson referring to 2mA as ‘baby aspirin’ and pointing out that ‘the dose  hasn’t increased in 15 years’. Combine this with the revelation (previous post to the blog) that the Thync device is using up to 10mA (pulsed current) and that much of the experiments that went on with the Thync device were conducted by Bikson and you can’t help but conclude that researchers are ready to up the dosage. But that was one of my very first questions and I asked it far and wide, ‘Why 2mA?’.

“There’s already technology available today that can, with limited discomfort or no discomfort, deliver much higher intensities than people are using. And there’s no theoretical—not even real—reason to think that this might be hazardous,” Bikson says. “We’re at baby aspirin levels right now. [Researchers] are going really slow with this stuff.”

So why not ramp up the experiments? Researchers have to be especially cautious because of how new the science of tDCS is—and perhaps to avoid the horrors that have been observed to coincide with ECT.

“Part of the reason why people are on the fence is because the effects are small, [but] of course they’re small. The dose has not increased in 15 years,” Bikson says.

But Bikson says that might be keeping them from making real headway—and from having the sort of impact on test subjects that would get the medical community engaged with this stuff.

via Electroceuticals: the Shocking Future of Brain Zapping | Motherboard.

Neurostimulation: Hacking your brain | The Economist

Very well researched and well-balanced article from Mark Harris at The Economist.

Hardly surprising, then, that DIY brain hackers want in on the action. Christopher Zobrist, a 36-year-old entrepreneur based in Vietnam, is one of them. With little vision he has been registered as blind since birth due to an hereditary condition of his optic nerve that has no established medical treatment. Mr Zobrist read a study of a different kind of transcranial stimulation (using alternating current) that had helped some glaucoma patients in Germany recover part of their vision. Despite neither the condition nor the treatment matching his own situation, Mr Zobrist decided to try tDCS in combination with a visual training app on his tablet computer. He quickly noticed improvements in his distance vision and perception of contrast. “After six months, I can see oncoming traffic two to three times farther away than before, which is very helpful when crossing busy streets,” he says.

Equally troublesome is a meta-analysis of the cognitive and behavioural effects on healthy adults that Mr Horvath subsequently carried out. As before, he included only the most reliable studies: those with a sham control group and replicated by other researchers. It left 200 studies claiming to have discovered beneficial effects on over 100 activities such as problem solving, learning, mental arithmetic, working memory and motor tasks. After his meta-analysis, however, tDCS was found to have had no significant effect on any of them.

If tDCS alters neither the physiology of the brain nor how it performs, thinks Mr Horvath, then evidence suggests it is not doing anything at all. Marom Bikson, a professor of biomedical engineering at City University of New York, disagrees. “I can literally make you fall on your butt using the ‘wrong’ type of tDCS,” he says. Dr Bikson thinks the biggest challenge for tDCS is optimising techniques, such as the dose.

via Neurostimulation: Hacking your brain | The Economist.

Frontiers | Open questions on the mechanisms of neuromodulation with applied and endogenous electric fields

via @MaromBikson Download links below.

Despite increased knowledge, and more sophisticated experimental and modeling approaches, fundamental questions remain about how electricity can interact with ongoing brain function in information processing or as a medical intervention. Specifically, what biophysical and network mechanisms allow for weak electric fields to strongly influence neuronal activity and function? How can strong and weak fields induce meaningful changes in CNS function? How do abnormal endogenous electric fields contribute to pathophysiology? Topics included in the review range from the role of field effects in cortical oscillations, transcranial electrical stimulation, deep brain stimulation, modeling of field effects, and the role of field effects in neurological diseases such as epilepsy, hemifacial spasm, trigeminal neuralgia, and multiple sclerosis.

via Frontiers | Open questions on the mechanisms of neuromodulation with applied and endogenous electric fields.

With batteries included, brain stimulation devices prepare to go mainstream — NewsWorks

The San Francisco-based start-up is tight-lipped about what the Halo unit will look like, but it is confirming that the device will rely on something called transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS, to channel small amounts of electricity through the brain.

“We want to build a product that’s a wearable, that’s ridiculously simple and easy to use…we also want it to be aesthetically pleasing, and not scary to look at or to wear,” he says.

With the catchphrase “Be Electric,” Halo plans to launch its device sometime in 2015. And if you’re picturing shock therapy, dial those expectations way back. TDCS uses a far smaller jolt for its intended effect.

via With batteries included, brain stimulation devices prepare to go mainstream — NewsWorks.

Tap Your Smartphone, Zap Your Head, and Relax | MIT Technology Review

Thync recently announced $13 million in venture capital from investors such as Khosla Ventures to bring the first products to market.

Marom Bikson, a professor of biomedical engineering at City College of New York, recently used a prototype of Thync’s device in a 100-person study funded by the company that focused on its calming effects. Bikson says the study showed “with a high degree of confidence” that the device has an effect, although the results varied. “For some people—not everyone—the effect is really profound,” he says. “Within minutes, they’re feeling significantly different in a way that is as powerful as anything else I could imagine short of a narcotic.”

The device uses a form of transcranial direct current stimulation TDCS, something that’s been tested in various forms for years but has yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat a specific disease.

In Thync’s device, a barely perceptible electrical current is applied to the skin just behind the ear for the Red Bull effect, and on the temple and back of the neck for the relaxing effect.

via Tap Your Smartphone, Zap Your Head, and Relax | MIT Technology Review.

YOUR ELECTRIC PHARMACY

Emphasis mine on “but over time it will also gradually rewire your neurons to prevent future attacks.” Very interesting considering the source, Marom Bickson. If you’ve been following the pop press on brain plasticity, you’ve certainly heard the phrase: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Could this be a meta-framework for thinking about tDCS?

Head band and controller sourced from CaputronMedical.com

Head band and controller sourced from CaputronMedical.com the green electrode/strap on the right is the Soterix EasyStrap (see below)

Future medications for brain disorders could be delivered through electrodes rather than pills
By Marom Bikson and Peter Toshev

The pharmacist guides you to a shelf of headgear, labeled
with different brain regions. She fits you for a cap, the underside of which features thin conductive metal strips, called electrodes, coated in adhesive gel to stick gently to your scalp.
The electrodes link to a slim cable that dangles from the back of the cap. She then hands over the key component of your prescribed medication: an electric stimulator.
Once a day for the next week you will don the headgear
and plug the cable into this device for a 20-minute dose of
electricity. Setting aside your trepidation, you give it a try in front of the pharmacist. At first you feel only a tingling sensation and then relief.
As you wear the cap, an electric current is traveling from
the electrodes, past hair, scalp and bone, into the brain regions responsible for your migraines. At first it merely blunts the pain, but over time it will also gradually rewire your neurons to prevent future attacks. The pharmacist explains that you will be free to carry on with your day—finish chores, watch television, go for a walk– with the cap on your head, and when the dose is up, the stimulator will simply stop running.
——–
When brain cells activate together, the connections among them grow stronger and more numerous. Cells that seldom fire in concert gradually lose their linkages. Adding tDCS can therefore heighten the brain’s ability to rewire itself—its plasticity.

Source: http://neuralengr.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/samind_2014_11.pdf
See also: Zap Your Brain to Health with an Electrode Cap – Scientific American.
And: Giving the Brain a Buzz: The Ultimate in Self-Help or a Dangerous Distraction?

Soterix Accessories page. (I am not affiliated with Soterix or any other product mentioned on this blog).

I want to be your neuroscience experiment | Al Jazeera America

My sense is that the author’s experience is very similar to that of most tDCS DIYers – an initial flurry of interest followed by frustration at not knowing if ‘it’s working’. That’s why it’s exciting to see easily replicated protocols for self-testing emerging around the Dual N-Back game that is available for free. http://brainworkshop.sourceforge.net/download.html

A device mentioned in the article is J.D. Leadam’s ‘Brain Stimulator’ http://thebrainstimulator.net (No affiliation)

We’d decided to try the “accelerated learning” montage that had been developed and tested by DARPA. The best test of the device we could come up with was to play Nintendo Wii Mario Kart while brain zapping for 20 minutes — our performance seemed easily measurable (we would just play the same course, over and over) and a lot less violent. At first I was miserable, my green dinosaur avatar, Yoshi, falling off the track on every hairpin turn and barely finishing the course in 3:30. By the end, though, I was cracking 3:00. Of course, there was no control here, no way to tell whether I was simply learning a new skill, but I was cautiously optimistic.

In the weeks that followed, I stuck to it, undertaking 20 minutes of tDCS four to five days a week. I decided to try to teach myself interactive web design, and whenever I’d run the current through my brain, I’d accompany it with 20 minutes on Code Academy, the teach-yourself-to-code megasite. But after a few weeks, the results I was looking for seemed elusive. I was obviously getting better at coding, but there was no way for me to know what role the electricity was playing. And it was still kind of painful. So I quit, and about two months after visiting Bikson’s lab, my tDCS device is gathering dust on a shelf in my office.

via I want to be your neuroscience experiment | Al Jazeera America.

Contributor Q&A: Cara Santa Maria gets her brain stimulated | Al Jazeera America

tDCS has so many promising applications – what excites you the most?

I’m personally most excited about the promise tDCS seems to hold for individuals with Major Depressive Disorder. Although the paradigm may be more complicated (what exactly is a behavioral treatment for depression?), if it has even a minor effect, it could help millions of people.

I have dealt with depression since I was a child. I see a therapist weekly and take a daily dose of citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. I’m lucky that I’ve found a drug that works for me. Many people are not. They struggle to find an appropriate dose or maintain a drug after its effects change with time. If this proves to be a reliable alternative treatment, it could be a real game-changer.

via Contributor Q&A: Cara Santa Maria gets her brain stimulated | Al Jazeera America.

Transcranial direct current stimulation facilitates cognitive multi-task performance differentially depending on anode location and subtask | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Interesting especially in relation to Michael Weisend’s success using F10 in skill (target recognition) acquisition. That the research is going in this direction is encouraging. I expect we’ll have a much better understanding of various cognitive enhancement strategies over the next few years.

We compared effects of 30 min prefrontal and parietal stimulation to right and left hemispheres on subtask performance during the first 45 min of training. The strongest effects both overall and for ship flying control and velocity subtasks were seen with a right parietal C4, reference to left shoulder montage, shown by modeling to induce an electric field that includes nodes in both dorsal and ventral attention networks. This is consistent with the re-orienting hypothesis that the ventral attention network is activated along with the dorsal attention network if a new, task-relevant event occurs while visuospatial attention is focused Corbetta et al., 2008. No effects were seen with anodes over sites that stimulated only dorsal C3 or only ventral F10 attention networks. The speed subtask update memory for symbols benefited from an F9 anode over left prefrontal cortex. These results argue for development of tDCS as a training aid in real world settings where multi-tasking is critical.

via Frontiers | Transcranial direct current stimulation facilitates cognitive multi-task performance differentially depending on anode location and subtask | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

NEUROMODEC » University of Florida tDCS Workshop 2014

Neuromodec presents

University of Florida: tDCS Workshop 2014

An intensive two-day international meeting dedicated on the design and implementation of tDCS in clinical and research settings. Update on 2014 state-of-the-art methodology with presentations and discussions on the development of professional standards for safety, validity and reproducibility of functional outcomes in tDCS applications.

September 4th & 5th 2014
University of Florida
Clinical Translational Research Building
2004 Mowry Road,
Gainesville, Florida 32610


Workshop Leadership

Adam J. Woods, Ph.D.

tDCS Course Director

Marom Bikson, Ph.D.

tDCS Course Co-Director

Helena Knotkova, Ph.D.

tDCS Course Co-Director

Peter K. Toshev

tDCS Workshop Director

via NEUROMODEC » University of Florida tDCS Workshop 2014.

Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation UC-Davis Sept. 5, 2013 Videos

The ‘current’ state of the art! Thanks UC Davis for sharing! http://www.youtube.com/user/UCDavis

Dr. Marom Bikson, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The City College of The City University of New York, discussing the cellular mechanisms of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) at the Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) at the UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain.


Dr. Vince Clark, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of New Mexico, speaking on the role of tDCS in cognitive enhancement in a talk at the Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) at the UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain.


In this talk at the Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) at the UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain, Dr. Roy Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses a range of clinical applications of the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) technique.


Dr. Michael Nitsche, a pioneer in the field of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) from the University of Goettingen in Germany, speaking about the physiological basis of tDCS at the Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) at the UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain.


Dr. Dylan Edwards of the Burke Medical Research Institute, speaking on the role of tDCS and robotics in human motor recovery in a talk at the Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) at the UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain.


Dr. Vincent Walsh of University College London, discussing the current evidence for and against the role of transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) in improving cognition at the Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) at the UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain.

tDSC Papers of Note April 2013

Regional personalized electrodes to select transcranial current stimulation target (pdf)
…with the present work we developed a procedure to properly shape the stimulating
electrode.
Regional-personalized-electrodes-to-select-transcranial-current-stimulation-target

(The familiar looking square electrodes were the reference electrodes.)
Tags: electrodes, tACS

The Sertraline vs Electrical Current Therapy for Treating Depression Clinical StudyResults From a Factorial, Randomized, Controlled Trial (pdf)
At the main end point, there was a significant difference in Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale scores when comparing the combined treatment group (sertraline/active tDCS) vs sertraline only, tDCS only, and placebo/sham tDCS… There were 7 episodes of treatment-emergent mania or hypomania, 5 occurring in the combined treatment group.
Tags: depression

Noninvasive transcranial direct current stimulation over the left prefrontal cortex facilitates cognitive flexibility in tool use (pdf)
The results support the hypothesis that certain tasks may benefit from a state of diminished cognitive control.
And a related news story discussing the same paper.
Brain hacking: Electrifying your creative side
Each person was shown pictures of everyday objects and asked to come up with a new uses for them.
The group which received the TDCS muting the left prefrontal cortex was better in coming up with unusual uses than the others — and did it faster.
Tags: creativity, Sharon Thompson-Schill, cathodal stimulation,

 Orchestrating neuronal networks: sustained after-effects of transcranial alternating current stimulation depend upon brain states (pdf)
Long lasting after-effects foster the role of tACS as a tool for non-invasive brain stimulation and demonstrate the potential for therapeutic application to reestablish the balance of altered brain oscillations.
Tags: tACS

Different Current Intensities of Anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Do Not Differentially Modulate Motor Cortex Plasticity (pdf)
targeting M1 …10 minutes of anodal tDCS at 0.8, 1.0, and 1.2 mA
These results suggest that the aftereffect of anodal tDCS on facilitating cortical excitability is due to the modulation of synaptic mechanisms associated with long-term potentiation and is not influenced by different tDCS intensities.
Tags: M1, dosage

Transcranial direct-current stimulation increases extracellular dopamine levels in the rat striatum (pdf)
Following the application of cathodal, but not anodal, tDCS for 10 min, extracellular dopamine levels increased for more than 400 min in the striatum. There were no significant changes in extracellular serotonin levels.
Tags: dopamine

Spark of Genius: A new technology promises to supercharge your brain with electricity. Is it too good to be true?
Surprisingly good pop-sci overview of where we’re at with tDCS. Chock full of relevant links.

Using computational models in tDCS research and clinical trials (pdf)
Hypothesis: Appropriately applied computational models are pivotal for rational tDCS dose selection.
Tags: Comptational modeling, Marom Bikson,

Boosting brain functions: Improving executive functions with behavioral training, neurostimulation, and neurofeedback  (pdf)
This review provides a synopsis of two lines of research, investigating the enhancement of capabilities in executive functioning: a) computerized behavioral trainings, and b) approaches for direct neuromodulation (neurofeedback and transcranial electrostimulation).
Tags: cognitive enhancement

Focal Modulation of the Primary Motor Cortex in Fibromyalgia Using 4×1-Ring High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (HD-tDCS): Immediate and Delayed Analgesic Effects of Cathodal and Anodal Stimulation (pdf)
We found that both active stimulation conditions led to significant reduction in overall perceived pain as compared to sham.
Tags: Fibromyalgia, HD-tDCS, Marom Bikson, pain

Prof. Marom Bikson of The City College of New York lecture at the Harvard Medical School tDCS course on tDCS dose and mechanism

Published on Aug 19, 2013
Prof. Marom Bikson of The City College of New York lecture at the Harvard Medical School tDCS course on tDCS dose and mechanism. Topics include High-Definition tDCS (HD-tDCS), TDCS in children and in stroke, targeting, and optimization. CCNY link http://neuralengr.com/ HD-tDCS link http://soterixmedical.com/hd-tdcs

Marom Bikson lecture “Non-invasive brain stimulation: mechanisms, effects and opportunities”

Unfortunately, the quality of these videos is quite poor (always use a tripod, always get a direct audio feed of the lecture 😉 You can download an enhanced audio-only mp3 of the lecture here.

Prof. Marom Bikson of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The City College of New York lecture on March 13, 2013 at the: Symposium at the the 10th Göttingen Meeting of the German Neuroscience Society.
“Non-invasive brain stimulation: mechanisms, effects and opportunities” introduces fundamentals of tDCS mechanisms and dose including how to achieve targeting using brain stimulation.
Continue the discussion here or on the lab http://neuralengr.com/forums/ or Soterix forums http://soterixmedical.com/community/