Tapping into the power of Thync | TechRepublic

Very well-written and detailed article on the upcoming Thync device. Links to full article below.

I set the vibe level to 60, and felt a slight pressure on my forehead as the vibe commenced. It wasn’t painful but I did note an almost immediate change as the calming electrical signals began to enter my brain. This wasn’t a placebo and it wasn’t suggestion: it was real.

“Think about a stressful situation,” Sumon advised. “Then focus on it a bit later to see how you react to it.”

Naturally, I thought about the hike back to my car and the exodus from Boston before rush hour commenced. Already the apprehension that previously seemed to be looming was a mere thought, nothing more. Just a few moments after starting the demo I felt a steady flow of relaxation coursing through my body. It was a bit like tubing down a lazy river at a water park; pleasant and entertaining, yet not too intense. I continued to take notes on my reactions as Sumon worked on his computer. It was like a comfortable visit with a colleague I’d known for a while.

“You may feel some euphoria,” Sumon stated. I agreed; the experience was like the buzz of a couple of beers, minus the “belly glow” that goes with it.

I raised the intensity level to 62, then 64 and finally 68. I noticed when I increased the threshold I felt a slight twist of pressure in my temple as the sensor responded, but it wasn’t uncomfortable or distracting. However, 68 represented a euphoric flow a bit higher than I seemed to need, so I dialed back down to 62.

I reflected on my upcoming drive home and felt nothing other than confidence. The car would be fine where I had parked it and the drive would be okay too. Even if things got sticky, I had the radio to listen to and no particular demands on my schedule for the evening. There were far worse things than sitting in Boston traffic, I reflected absently.

via Tapping into the power of Thync – TechRepublic.

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.

Will 2015 Be The Year Our Smartphones Link Up To Our Brains? | Popular Science

As executive director Sumon Pal fixes two small electrodes to my head he waxes poetic about that science. Writing vibes, he says, is like writing songs. “You figure out the pieces you want, but things change over time.” Over the next 16 minutes, things do change. My head and neck become accustomed to the warm vibrations imparted by the electrodes. My breathing slows noticeably, my thoughts cease their usual ricocheting off one another and zero in on the moment, and the familiar knot of tension between my shoulder blades begins to soften. By the time the Calm Vibe has run its course, the feeling feeling of warm relaxation running through me is somewhat analogous to the sensation one feels after a short bout of meditative yoga—or perhaps a healthy snort of bourbon.

The company is confident that before the end of the year it will be selling a consumer-friendly piece of wearable tech that actively alters users’ biology. Users will enhance their mental state with the swipe of a finger. It’s not science fiction anymore, Tyler says. It’s just science.

via Will 2015 Be The Year Our Smartphones Link Up To Our Brains? | Popular Science.

How the first brain-altering wearable is being tested | TheDailyDot

Here we go. The Thync device isn’t tDCS after all.
From the study:

We have developed a neuromodulation approach that targets peripheral nerves and utilizes their afferents as signaling conduits to influence brain function. We investigated the effects of this transdermal electrical neurosignaling (TEN) approach on physiological responses to acute stress induction. TEN was targeted to the ophthalmic and maxillary divisions of the right trigeminal nerve and cervical spinal nerve afferents (C2/C3) using high-frequency, pulse-modulated electrical currents. Compared to active sham stimulation, TEN significantly suppressed sympathetic activity in response to acute stress without impeding cognitive performance. This sympatholytic action of TEN was indicated by significant suppression of heart rate variability changes, galvanic skin responses, and salivary α-amylase levels in response to stress. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that TEN acted partially by modulating activity in the locus coeruleus and subsequent noradrenergic signaling. Dampening sympathetic tone using TEN in such a manner represents a promising approach to managing daily stress and improving brain health.

And as reported by Daily Dot

While I had only 30 minutes of time with Thync, the team told me that it’s been doing in-depth beta testing for a while. Now, Thync is starting to release some of its findings. In a press release this morning, Thync announced a study showing that its device reduces stress without chemicals. Here’s a quick look at how it worked:

In the study, researchers experimentally induced stress in subjects by exposing them to various environmental stimuli causing fear or cognitive pressure. When Thync scientists examined stress biomarkers in the saliva of subjects at different time points throughout the study, they observed something interesting. They found the levels of salivary α-amylase, an enzyme that increases with stress, as well as noradrenergic and sympathetic activity, significantly dropped for the subjects that received electrical neurosignaling compared to the subjects that received the sham.

The results are exactly what Thync has been saying: That it can de-stress us without putting anything into our bodies. It’s an interesting (though admittedly, very academic) look at how Thync works. But the company also helped me understand its testing and offered an anecdotal look at how the device is being used.

via How the first brain-altering wearable is being tested.

You Asked, We Answered: Thync Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How are Thync Vibes tested?

A: Thync Vibes are the culmination of testing and developing of our technology on thousands of people in more than 150 studies we have conducted. When evaluating our Vibes, we monitor biometric signals, psychophysiological variables, and conduct psychometric evaluations. For example, we capture, record, and analyze data such as heart rate, heart rate variability, galvanic skin response, pupil diameter, and EEG to quantify how Vibes influence both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.

Our studies also consider the placebo effect by incorporating sham groups in blind tests to assess the effectiveness of a particular stimulus protocols. We use sham protocols that mimic the skin sensations of Vibes and give users the same control interface in our app, but they are designed to be non-functional in increasing energy or enhancing calmness. Our standards for developing reliable and significant Vibe effects are always defined by comparison to sham studies.

Q: Does the Thync device produce long-term changes in brain function or neuroplasticity?

A: Thync scientists have investigated long-term effects with both in-house and sponsored academic research studies and have not identified any maladaptive long-term effects.

Q: Are you planning to add additional Vibes?

A: We are planning to expand our Vibes in the future. Stay tuned.

via You Asked, We Answered: Thync Frequently Asked Questions.

I tried a brain-altering wearable that allows users to change their moods on demand – Quartz

thync-calm-kit-zaps-your-brain-into-feeling-calm-or-energeticThe 20 minutes are up sooner than I imagined. I peel the device from my forehead, remove the underlying disposable electrodes, replace my glasses. The difference, I must admit, is palpable: Everything seems more finely etched, crisper. I notice more details in the world around me, and the sense of dullness that three days spent listening to press pitches from moribund industry giants has draped over my brain seems to have been peeled away. Andrew’s experience is less dramatic—he says he definitely feels more relaxed, but you can’t get less anxiety than zero. The up elevator, meanwhile, doesn’t have the same ceiling.
Goldwasser is back. “How is it?” he asks. I tell him that I feel “overclocked,” and he laughs.

via I tried a brain-altering wearable that allows users to change their moods on demand – Quartz.

Thync Calm Kit Zaps Your Brain Into Feeling Calm or Energetic | PCMag.com

One report on Thync from CES in Las Vegas. Will update if I find more.

thync-calm-kit-zaps-your-brain-into-feeling-calm-or-energeticThe device pairs via Bluetooth to a mobile app with the calming and energizing sessions, which can be anywhere from five to 20 minutes long. Once the device is in place, you select your session from the app and hang out until it’s over. Sitting still isn’t mandatory, and I was prompted to talk with other people in the room during my session. The mobile app shows a dial that indicates how far into the program you are and the intensity levels of the electrical pulses that are going to your brain. You can make them stronger or less intense as needed. I kept mine at about 65 percent. When my session ended, my ear immediately stopped tingling. I removed the sensors, and the small crowd of Thync staff and partners were eager to know, “How do you feel?”
“Pretty much the same,” I said. “I don’t know how I am supposed to feel, though.” One woman, based on her own experiences, suggested more clarity, like a fog lifting. Another person used the word “motivated.” I didn’t want to disappoint them, but I felt, well, totally normal.Perhaps, it was suggested, I might get a little kick a few minutes after leaving the room, but it didn’t seem to happen.Thync has tested the device on around 4,000 subjects so far. Tyler said they see about a 30 to 40 percent reduction in the physiological responses to stressful situations, meaning when people are being calmed by the Thync Calm Kit, their actual biosignals, like heart rate and galvanic skin response, are lower or fewer than that of a control group that’s also being artificially stressed and treated with a placebo device.

via Thync Calm Kit Zaps Your Brain Into Feeling Calm or Energetic | News & Opinion | PCMag.com.

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.

Jamie Tyler – Focused Ultrasound – CSO & Founder of Thync

Somewhere in the course of running down the Rabbit Hole this morning, I found myself thinking, ‘Wait, this feels familiar.’ Then I remembered where I’d seen Jamie Tyler recently- on the About page for Thync! He’s the CSO and Founder! Exciting to think about what may evolve from Thync based on the links below. We do know that Thync’s first product, now in Alpha will be tDCS based.
Are you ready for Digital Heroin?
William ‘Jamie’ Tyler receives innovation award
Fingers on the pulse: Neuroscientists prove ultrasound can be tweaked to stimulate different sensations
Pulsed Ultrasound Differentially Stimulates Somatosensory Circuits in Humans as Indicated by EEG and fMRI
Remote Control of Brain Activity Using Ultrasound
You can deep dive into Jamie’s work from the Thync Scientific Publications page.

Other advantages of ultrasound are that it can be focused through the skull to any discrete region of the brain with millimeter accuracy.”

Tyler Lab of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

tyler lab experimental P1020128

…one experimental setup we are working on developing for cognitive enhancement applications. Tyler Lab

Tyler has so far investigated whether ultrasound stimulation could stop epileptic seizures, in which lots of brain regions start firing in synchrony. In one of their first experiments along these lines,Tyler’s team induced seizures in mice before applying ultrasound pulses to their skulls. The sound waves broke up the synchronous firing, ending the seizure. He has high hopes that the technique could be used to treat people with head injuries, who often have seizures. “What if you could develop a device that was an automatic external defibrillator, except for the brain, to treat brain injury?” says Tyler. “That’s my vision.”

The work has inspired Stuart Hameroff to test the technique on himself. An anaesthesiologist and consciousness researcher at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, Hameroff first suggested to a colleague that they try the therapy to treat chronic pain. The colleague agreed, on one condition. “He looked at me and said, ‘you have a nice shaped head, why don’t we try it on you’,” says Hameroff.

Mood lifter

So they did. They applied ultrasound to Hameroff’s temple for 15seconds. Nothing happened immediately. “But about a minute later, I started to get a buzz, like I had a martini, and felt really good for about 2 hours.”

via TranshumanTech: [tt] NS 2932: The knockout enigma: How your mechanical brain works. From New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929320.600-the-knockout-enigma-how-your-mechanical-brain-works.html

A mood-changing headset, Thync, that uses electrodes to perk you up | The Guardian

Also, if you live in the Boston area, Thync is recruiting for alpha-testing. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AlphaRecruitment

Alcohol and coffee are about to get competition from a set of electrodes you wear on your head. Branded the Thync, the calming effect it produces is comparable to how you feel after an alcoholic drink, while the energising effect is similar to a cup of coffee, says Isy Goldwasser, the CEO and co-founder of this Silicon Valley-based startup. The company plans to start selling the device through its website in 2015.
Goldwasser envisages people using the Thync “vibes” to help them unwind after a long day at work, or to get a caffeine-free pick-me-up. “We are giving people a way to overcome a basic limitation – that no one is really wired to co-opt energy and calm on demand,” he says.
It doesn’t work for everyone though. About a third of people don’t have a strong response. When I try a prototype I feel a tingling where it makes contact with my skin, but no particularly serene feeling, even after a few sessions. The energising vibe also fails to do much for me.

via A mood-changing headset, Thync, that uses electrodes to perk you up | Technology | The Guardian.

Forget Coffee, Techies Giving Brain An Electric Jolt To Stay More Focused | CBS San Francisco

“Especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, where everyone is a hacker of some type or the other…you’ve got a lot of people who don’t have any qualms about hooking some electrical thing to their head where they may not know how it works,” said Jared Seehafer.
But before you scrounge around for parts…
“I sure wouldn’t put anything I made for $25 on my head and turn on the switch,” says Stanford Law & Bio-sciences Director Hank Greely, who specializes in the ethical, legal and social implications of these new technologies. “Before you run volts through your brain, um, I think it’s really important to try to make sure that it’s safe and it’s effective.”

via Forget Coffee, Techies Giving Brain An Electric Jolt To Stay More Focused « CBS San Francisco.

Wearable for state-of-mind shift set for 2015 | Phys.org

Their (Thync) technology is about proprietary neurosignaling waveforms that target neural pathways via a triad: BRAIN: prefrontal and frontoparietal brain regions; NERVES: sensory fibers of cranial nerves; and MUSCLE: neuromuscular fibers, according to their site. Fundamentally, this is, in the words of CNN’s Heather Kelly, “a portable headset that will offer three settings to start: energy, relaxation and focus.” Isy Goldwasser, the company CEO, said in CNN, “For some people it would be their third cup of coffee, for some people it would be their afternoon nap.” Cofounder and CSO Jamie Tyler, a professor at Arizona State University, said in MIT Technology Review that the device can produce “a calming effect more potent than drinking a couple of beers or taking Benadryl. “As for the energizing effect, Bullis said the “short-lived” energizing effect “feels a little like drinking a can of Red Bull.”

via Wearable for state-of-mind shift set for 2015.

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.

My Thoughts On Thync

When I started this blog in 2012 friends and family thought I was crazy. But I knew something interesting was happening and now that we’re seeing all this VC money flowing into the space it’s obvious something IS happening. Still too early to tell what will become of all this, but a single ‘killer app’ (provable, repeatable, without side-effects) could launch tDCS, or another form of non-invasive brain stimulation, into the mainstream.
I wonder if Thync’s announcement took Halo Neuroscience by surprise (probably not). Considering how simple a tDCS device is to make, it will be interesting to see if add-ons can make individual devices truly patentable – I’m thinking built-in feedback and monitoring etc.
And this on Thync’s About page from Marom Bikson! This is interesting in itself because Dr. Bikson has been critical of efforts to commercialize tDCS in the consumer space (especially the foc.us device, but generally cautious)

“Dr. Jamie Tyler has built an extraordinary team of scientists and engineers at Thync who are creating consumer devices that achieve a level of neuromodulation performance, safety, and ease-of-use that is a categorical advance for the field.”

Looking into the list of scientific publications Thync lists on their site, I would have to conclude that perhaps their focus is more on transcranial pulsed ultrasound (TPU) than tDCS. And look! DARPA has also been funding research in TPU.  [Update: Thync confirmed their first device will be tDCS based.]

Thync ‏@thync
@DIYtDCS Thank you for the inquiry. We have deep knowledge of both. Our first product will be around #tDCS.

Here, from Thync’s website, they lay out the technological foundation of their ‘Vibes’ product.

Founded on decades of research and results using transcranial pulsed ultrasound (tPU), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and other transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) methods, Thync elevates these breakthroughs in neuroscience to a new place in lifestyle technology.

We have developed proprietary neurosignaling waveforms that target neural pathways via a mechanistic triad:
• BRAIN: prefrontal and frontoparietal brain regions
• NERVES: sensory fibers of cranial nerves
• MUSCLE: neuromuscular fibers


A secure Bluetooth Low Energy network enables users to control and tune neurosignaling waveforms to optimize their experience while shifting mindset in a personalized manner.

Aha! From a Business Week article tweeted by Marom Bikson, (implying their device, at least initially is more likely to be tDCS based):

Thync pursued Tyler’s ultrasound techniques for the first year, until the founders learned about studies conducted at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, where researchers had tried to improve pilots’ cognitive abilities with electrical stimulation. Reasoning that the electrical method, with its rapidly improving science, offered a safer, quicker route to the market, Thync switched gears. Since then, the company has worked to shrink the electrodes and develop its algorithms to produce a reliable, comfortable experience.

For the past 18 months, Thync has tested its “vibes” on more than 2,000 people in clinical trials at its Boston office and the City College of New York. Some subjects didn’t respond to the treatment at all—it doesn’t work for everybody—but the company reached a milestone when two out of three respondents started to regularly say the sensations were more powerful than the placebo effect. “Most people rate it as a moderate to strong response,” Goldwasser says of the energy vibe, “or at least as good as a few cups of coffee.”

Prof. Bikson is co-director of Neural Engineering at The City College of New York so it stands to reason he was involved in the testing. When I asked him via Twitter he said:

CCNY completed 90 subject 6-week (5 session per week) trial using Thync and Soterix tech. Exciting details and results coming soon.

Excited to see the results of these tests. Also, as long as we are heading into the consumer space, it’s great to have Dr. Bikson involved.
The product is set to launch in 2015. I’ll be following closely…

Update 10/12/14 Following up on Mika’s observation (see comments)…

P.S. Thync hit it out of the park with the naming of their company/domain/Twitter handle.


See Also:
Thync Lets You Give Your Mind a Jolt
Thync’s Wearable Won’t Just Measure Your Mood, It Will Fix It – IEEE Spectrum.
Thync to Launch First Mood-Altering Wearable With $13M Led by Khosla
Thync Has Raised $13M To Change Your Mood With Ultrasound Waves (And Electricity)
Wearable tech to hack your brain | CNNTech 10/23/14