How the brain ignores distractions | News from Brown

As our awareness of brainwave activity mapped to behavior evolves, we’re sure to see the development of tACS for treatment and enhancement. I am betting that Neurolectrics, with their lab-level NIB/EEG device, Starstim, have been collecting valuable data in this area.

Jones and Kerr are now working with Dr. Ben Greenberg, professor of psychiatry and human behavior, to test whether they can use noninvasive, transcranial alternating current electrical stimulation (tACS) to take advantage of this process. They will test whether they can use the technology to manipulate alpha and beta waves between parts of the brain such as the somatosensory cortex and the rIFC to suppress attention to, or even the detection of, pain.

In a similar vein, research results show that mindfulness meditation, also possibly via the mechanism of throttling attention via control of alpha rhythms, can help people ignore depressive thoughts. Jones and Kerr are also interested to study whether explicit manipulation of alpha and beta waves between a different part of the cortex and the rIFC could provide much the same relief.

The Brown Institute for Brain Science recently outfitted a new lab on campus with the needed hardware for tACS and other brain stimulation research. BIBS and the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute are funding the collaboration with Greenberg.

via How the brain ignores distractions | News from Brown.

Quick and Dirty Guide on Transcranial Current Stimulation

What makes tDCS work?
Let us start with the application of DC current and its study at neuronal level. While the electrical current goes through the scalp and cortex it encounters different mediums. Each time it goes through the limit between two mediums it leaves some charge behind. This is what happens when traversing the neuronal membrane, which constitutes the interface between the interior of the neuron and its environment. These charges generate a voltage difference, which makes the resting potential of the membrane either decrease or increase, depending on its sign, i.e. on the current sense. Therefore the neuron is correspondingly either more likely or less likely to fire. When applying an anodal current, the action potential thresholds of pyramidal cells under the anode application area are lowered, meaning that they fire more easily. Therefore this current, and its associated electrical field, is considered excitatory. On the other hand a cathodal current would present an inhibitory effect.
via Quick and Dirty Guide on Transcranial Current Stimulation.