Neurosystems for National Security – MRN

More from and about the Mind Research Network.

The goal of NS2 is to translate high spatial and temporal resolution brain imaging, fMRI, MEG, and noninvasive brain stimulation into viable solutions for training soldiers and intelligence professionals to help them with real-time decision making and actions that avert injury and trauma. Noninvasive brain stimulation, specifically transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), is being used to attempt to influence the learning process, perhaps increasing the speed of learning or improving retention. TDCS utilizes scalp electrodes to deliver low amplitude direct currents to localized areas of the cerebral cortex (the superficial part of the brain), thereby modulating the level of excitability, or, put another way, increasing or decreasing the probability that neurons will talk to each other. “Even though TDCS has been applied to humans safely for decades, we are just beginning to learn how it helps to accelerate the learning process. Within the next couple of years, I expect great progress toward this goal,” says researcher Dr. Michael Weisend.

via Neurosystems for National Security – MRN.
See Also: tDCS at MRN

Is Electricity the New Smart Drug? – Percolator – The Chronicle of Higher Education

I called Weisend recently to see what he thought of people experimenting with tDCS. “In the DIY crowd they don’t have the neuroimaging to start the process and know where to place the electrodes,” he told me. “Their success and their safety are going to be limited.” In the laboratory, subjects go through two or three sessions of tDCS over a week. What happens long term if you do more than that? Nobody knows. And the equipment you order from some random person online may not be as reliable as what’s used in a laboratory.

That said, Weisend believes tDCS can be done safely, and he thinks it might be used to prevent memory loss in the elderly or to help patients recover from traumatic brain injuries. He’s tried tDCS on his own brain hundreds of time and hasn’t suffered any deleterious effects—with the notable exception of a few skin burns that were severe enough to leave scars. “You get attached to your work, I guess,” he says.

via Is Electricity the New Smart Drug? – Percolator – The Chronicle of Higher Education.