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Attaching a battery to your head


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#1 Futurist1000

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 02:45 AM


The title of this thread should probably read "Connecting a battery to your head." I tend to use the wrong words sometimes. Attaching a battery to your head is a totally different thing.

Ok has anyone heard of transcranial direct current stimulation? Has anyone tried this? Does anyone know any more about it? Apparently all you need is a 9-volt battery, some wires and damp sponges. By attaching the sponges to your skull you can influence the way your brain works (or doesn't work) via the electricity of the battery. I think you also need a device to keep the amps to a minimum. Please though, don't anyone try this at home. Permanent brain damage is a potential side effect (though it looks to be unlikely if you take the proper precautions). I think by applying voltage you can influence the firing pattern in any specific area of the neocortex. The change in firing pattern is only temporary, however if you continually use the device (over the course of several weeks) it can lead to more permanent changes in brain function.(wasn't sure if this was the right section to post in, I didn't see it posted yet but if it has been you can delete it)

tDCS

Ingredients:
One (1) brain, inside skull
One (1) 9-volt battery
Two (2) wires
Two (2) damp sponges

Instructions:

Attach battery to wires, attach wires to sponges, attach sponges to skull, one over each eyebrow. Simmer once a day until mental health reaches a firm consistency.

It sounds like something you dreamed up in the basement with your stoner friends in high school. (In fact, you may actually have done so.) But transcranial direct current stimulation is the hottest thing to hit the improvisational health management scene since acupuncture. A growing body of evidence suggests that sticking a battery onto your head could hack into your brain's operating system and make life generally more worth living. Think of it as Norton Utilities for the mind.

That's not an oversimplification of the process. tDCS is literally that simple. The total cost of a treatment is less than $5 of parts from Radio Shack and a sponge. No prescription needed. No needles, no pills, no insurance companies, no weird hormonal fluctuations, no commercials saying "I'm glad [drug of choice] has a low risk of sexual side effects!"

An analysis of the pros and cons of tDCS yields fairly impressive results.

PROS
Improved hand-eye coordination
Better memory
Less depression
Recover from brain damage
Less senility
Me talks nice like teacher
Better memory
Control seizures
Cure migraines
Become superior human, crush puny unenhanced inferiors, survive apocalyptic "rise of the machines"
Better memory

CONS
Could end up looking stupid
Small, but not entirely absent, chance of permanent brain damage


tDCS

Stuart Gromley sits hunched over a desk in his bedroom, groping along the skin of his forehead, trying to figure out where to glue the electrodes. The wires lead to a Radio Shack Electronics Learning Lab, a toy covered with knobs, switches, and meters. Even though he’s working with a kiddie lab, Gromley, a 39-year-old network administrator in San Francisco, can’t afford to make mistakes: he’s about to send the current from a nine-volt battery into his own brain.

Gromley’s homemade contraption is modeled on the devices used in some of the top research centers around the world. Called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), the technology works on the principle that even the weak electrical signals generated by a small battery can penetrate the skull and affect hot-button areas on the outer surface of the brain. In the past few years, scholarly research papers have touted tDCS as a non-invasive and safe way to rejigger our thoughts and feelings, and possibly to treat a variety of mental disorders. Most provocatively, researchers at the National Institute of Health have shown that running a small jolt of electricity through the forehead can enhance the verbal abilities of healthy people. That is, tDCS might do more than just alleviate symptoms of disease. It might help make its users a little bit smarter.

Say “electricity” and “brain” in the same sentence, and most of us flash on certain scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. But tDCS has little in common with shock therapy. The amount of current that a nine-volt battery can produce is tiny, and most of it gets blocked by the skull anyway; what little current does go into brain tissue tends to stay close to the electrodes. By placing these electrodes on the forehead or the side of the head, researchers can pinpoint specific regions of the brain that they’d like to amp up or damp down.

tDCS wikipedia
tDCS
Entrez Pubmed
tDCS
tDCS

Edited by hrc579, 11 December 2007 - 05:42 AM.


#2 lucid

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 03:02 AM

I don't have much info, but perhaps it is similiar to electro-shock therapy which is useful in treating advanced depression and schizophrenia. Though 9 volts is pretty low.

Here is a ted talk that you might find interesting:

http://www.ted.com/i...ks/view/id/189

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#3 Futurist1000

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 03:17 AM

I don't have much info, but perhaps it is similiar to electro-shock therapy which is useful in treating advanced depression and schizophrenia. Though 9 volts is pretty low.

Yeah, apparently the current is only 1-2 mA, but you can basically influence any region of the brain that is in close proximity to your scalp. It's quite a bit different than ECT. ECT causes a seizure and needs to be performed under anasthesia. Tdcs seems to be much more selective. You can basically perform the procedure on yourself. At least from what I've read about it so far.
Wikipedia

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is the application of weak electrical currents (1-2 mA) to modulate the activity of neurons in the brain. Several generations of neurophysiological experiments have shown that neurons respond to static (DC) electrical fields by altering their firing rates. Firing increases when the positive pole or electrode (anode) is located near the cell body or dendrites and decrease when the field is reversed.

Here's a little more about it. It sounds interesting.
tdcs

LINDA BUSTEED sits nervously as two electrodes wrapped in large, wet sponges are strapped to her head. One electrode grazes the hairline above her left eye while the other sits squarely on her right eyebrow. Wires snake over her head to a small power pack fuelled by a 9-volt battery. Busteed drums her fingers on the table as she anticipates the moment when an electric current will start flowing through her brain.

It sounds like quackery, but it's not. A growing body of evidence suggests that passing a small electric current through your head can have a profound effect on the way your brain works. Called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), the technique has already been shown to boost verbal and motor skills and to improve learning and memory in healthy people - making fully-functioning brains work even better. It is also showing promise as a therapy to cure migraine and speed recovery after a stroke, and may extract more from the withering brains of people with dementia. Some researchers think the technique will eventually yield a commercial device that healthy people could use to boost their brain function at the flick of a switch.


Here is a ted talk that you might find interesting

Thanks.

Edited by hrc579, 11 December 2007 - 04:37 PM.


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#4 Futurist1000

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 11:07 PM

Found somebody on another forum talking about it.
Help me shock my brain

Here is the Wikipedia entry, but basically TDCs is applying a weak electrical current to the outside of a persons head through a wet sponge electrode. Multiple studies have shown it to improve concentration, memory, learning and host of other benefits. It works by exciting the neurons in the brain. While not directly causing the neurons to fire, after a short session with the device the pathways becomed excited or primed and that is what is believed to cause the documented benefits. It's achieving results similar to the currently more popular Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, but for far less money. However, anyone who is interested in doing this and experimenting on themselves, I caution you to read up as much as you can. While it is considered extremely safe for the most part, if the current is too high, the session too long, the polarity mismatched or if you are prone to seizures, this device could could trigger them.

From what I've been able to ascertain, the current is supposed to be between 1-2 mA. Most of the literature and the scientist who is responsible for the device's recent surge in popularity seem to say it's nothing more than a 9 volt battery, a meter, and a variable resistor all in line.



#5 Futurist1000

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Posted 14 December 2007 - 01:31 AM

Transcranial direct current stimulation enhances long-term learning

Stimulating the brain during learning can improve long-term memory, at least for one type of learning, according to research from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke and presented at the meeting.

Researchers working with healthy volunteers used a noninvasive technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Previous research has shown that this technique can change the pattern of nerve cell firing in the cortex and enhance short-term learning of motor tasks, but the effects on long-term learning had not been evaluated.

Transcranial direct current stimulation delivers a low-level electrical current directly to the brain via electrodes placed on the surface of the scalp. By changing the location of the electrodes, researchers can direct the current to a particular area of the cortex. This study used two electrodes; one positioned over the motor cortex, which controls movement, and the other over an area above the eyebrow.

Depending on the type of current used, tDCS can either increase or decrease nerve cell firing. In this study, participants underwent five daily applications of anodal tDCS, which boosts nerve cell firing, lasting 20 minutes each. One group received tDCS during the learning of a task that involved hitting targets on a computer screen with a cursor controlled by a grip-activated, hand-held device, a well-studied model for visual-motor learning. A second group received it immediately following the task, and a third group served as controls, receiving only “sham” tDCS.

Transcranial direct current stimulation improves working memory

Our aim was to determine whether anodal transcranial direct current stimulation, which enhances brain cortical excitability and activity, would modify performance in a sequential-letter working memory task when administered to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Fifteen subjects underwent a three-back working memory task based on letters. This task was performed during sham and anodal stimulation applied over the left DLPFC. Moreover seven of these subjects performed the same task, but with inverse polarity (cathodal stimulation of the left DLPFC) and anodal stimulation of the primary motor cortex (M1). Our results indicate that only anodal stimulation of the left prefrontal cortex, but not cathodal stimulation of left DLPFC or anodal stimulation of M1, increases the accuracy of the task performance when compared to sham stimulation of the same area.

Another forum with people talking about it.
forum topic TDCS

Edited by hrc579, 14 December 2007 - 01:34 AM.


#6 mystery

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 07:34 AM

Can anyone find any more resources or discussions about tDCS? I find this very interesting.

I've been doing some testing. Current does flow if you use a saline solution on the "spong", and a 9v battery. I used a 0-10k ohm potientiometer (variable resistor) to adjust the current flow. This seemed to be adequate and allowed me to adjust the current from .5 mA to over 4 mA. I think I see why the limit it to 2 mA max as it starts to sting above 2 ma and causes a brighter flash of light (at least for me) when connected.

At this point I just need to know where to put the electrodes for what kind of benefit. The LDPFC (left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) seems to be a good starting point. http://www.tdcs.no/english And for how long.

#7 edward

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 08:32 AM

I read a couple of articles about this, one I believe was in Scientific American Mind and the other was in Nature. Since the publications were so highly respected I had to take it seriously. Apparently from what I remember, the subjects significantly improved their memory and ability to learn when given standard memory tests. I was actually pretty psyched about it and was all prepared to go get myself all the materials to do it (the pictures in the article of the set up and where to put the "electrodes" were good enough for me to see how to do it) when I think I told my wife about it and she said something like are you nuts? I replied, its only a 9volt battery. My enthusiasm for the idea waned. Now I wish I had those pictures.

Apparently this is nothing like ECT basically the current travels from the + electrode I believe on the side of the head to the - electrode placed above the eye (specific position was very important as to minimize interference from thick skull bones) This current stimulates the neurons not into a seizure like in ECT but into a higher level of functioning. Apparently the apparatus can be used on either the right or left frontal lobes and the position can be adjusted to produce different effects. Very cool idea, again if I only had those pictures.


edit:spelling

Edited by edward, 16 December 2007 - 08:34 AM.


#8 Futurist1000

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 11:53 PM

I've been doing some testing. Current does flow if you use a saline solution on the "spong", and a 9v battery. I used a 0-10k ohm potientiometer (variable resistor) to adjust the current flow. This seemed to be adequate and allowed me to adjust the current from .5 mA to over 4 mA. I think I see why the limit it to 2 mA max as it starts to sting above 2 ma and causes a brighter flash of light (at least for me) when connected.

I'm curious, when they say 1-2 mA, is that including the resistance of your head? I mean do you hook the battery up to your head and then go up to 1-2 mA? Or is the 1-2 mA the current in the circuit before you attach it to your head?

Apparently this is nothing like ECT basically the current travels from the + electrode I believe on the side of the head to the - electrode placed above the eye (specific position was very important as to minimize interference from thick skull bones)

Yeah, basically the anode excites the neurons, while the cathode does the opposite. Placing the anode on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex appears to have beneficial effects on mood and working memory. You can place the cathode over your right eye. I guess this minimized the action of the cathode on the brain. Theoretically I guess you can just place the cathode on the side of your face, so there would be no chance it would have an effect on your brain.

I really don't recommend anybody doing this by the way. It would definitely be nice to see a company market a portable device based on this principle in the future, though.

Edited by hrc579, 23 December 2007 - 12:00 AM.


#9 MP11

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 12:06 AM

Just as a quick note, the idea of electrical charges changing body chemistry is nothing new and has been tried and proven true. Chips with electrical configurations placed in the brain can affect mood just as polyester boxers can pass electricity through the nads and reduce sperm cont and mobility :) (though only temporarily).

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#10 mystery

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 06:34 AM

I'm curious, when they say 1-2 mA, is that including the resistance of your head? I mean do you hook the battery up to your head and then go up to 1-2 mA? Or is the 1-2 mA the current in the circuit before you attach it to your head?


The 1-2 mA is the current flow for the entire circuit with the two electrodes attached to the head.

Yeah, basically the anode excites the neurons, while the cathode does the opposite. Placing the anode on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex appears to have beneficial effects on mood and working memory. You can place the cathode over your right eye. I guess this minimized the action of the cathode on the brain. Theoretically I guess you can just place the cathode on the side of your face, so there would be no chance it would have an effect on your brain.


Based on the research I've done, I wouldn't try just placing the cathode just anywhere. The direction of current flow may be partially responsible for the effects. It is at least significant in the research, and if you plan to get any of the benefits than I think its best to imitate the research closely.

I really don't recommend anybody doing this by the way. It would definitely be nice to see a company market a portable device based on this principle in the future, though.


I don't recommend just anyone do it either by posting my findings. I think it's up to each individual to decide if the benefits are worth the potential risks for themselves.

Just as a quick note, the idea of electrical charges changing body chemistry is nothing new and has been tried and proven true. Chips with electrical configurations placed in the brain can affect mood just as polyester boxers can pass electricity through the nads and reduce sperm cont and mobility ;) (though only temporarily).


One form approved by the FDA is cranial electrotherapy stimulation. But it seems to be more beneficial for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and drug addiction. I don't know if there are any cognitive enhancing properties to CES, but that is worth researching.

Does anyone have any more resources for tDCS that they've come accross?

Edited by mystery, 30 January 2008 - 06:34 AM.


#11 Futurist1000

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 04:39 PM

Thanks for the info.

There is a book available that's about transcranial magnetic and transcranial direct current therapy. It looks somewhat expensive, you can buy it for 112 dollars.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Book

The website below has a preview of the book.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Book Preview

Looks like tdcs can modify pain perception.
Transcranial direct current stimulation over somatosensory cortex decreases experimentally induced acute pain perception

DISCUSSION: Our study highlights the antinociceptive effect of this technique and may contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying pain relief. The pharmacologic prolongation of the excitability-diminishing after-effects would render the method applicable to different patient populations with chronic pain.


Edited by hrc579, 30 January 2008 - 04:50 PM.


#12 Heliotrope

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 06:08 PM

Any major studies, self-trials? without electricity one cannot think, but even with electricity some people have problem thinking.

If it really works, can successfully market a tye of cap-like device to wear and selectively stimulate different areas, a real "thinking cap " or smart hat that electrically massages the brain.

my 1st thought was this could end up on the snake oil review of imminst update but who knows

Edited by HYP86, 27 June 2008 - 06:10 PM.


#13 Heliotrope

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 08:22 PM

if it increases intelligence quite a bit, may be worth it. need a safe procedure though

#14 Futurist1000

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 04:33 PM

Want to Enhance Your Brain Power?

A little brain boost is something we could all use now and then. A new option may be on the horizon. Researchers at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, in Bethesda, MD, are studying how applying gentle electrical current to the scalp can improve learning.

Previous small-scale studies have suggested that a stream of current can improve motor function, verbal fluency, and even language learning. To explore how effective such stimulation can be as a learning tool, Eric Wassermann, a neuroscientist at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is using an approach known as transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), in which an electrical current is passed directly to the brain through the scalp and skull. The technology for TDCS, which has been available for decades, is simple and fairly crude. (In the 1960s, it was used to improve mood in people with psychiatric disorders, although that effect hasn't been repeated in more recent studies.) And in contrast to people undergoing electroconvulsive therapy, a seizure-inducing treatment used for severe depression that requires anesthesia, people undergoing TDCS feel just a slight tingle, if anything.



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#15 Futurist1000

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 11:44 PM

I actually tried doing this on myself. I basically used a 9 volt battery with some resistors in parallel. Theoretically you can use any battery and then add whatever resistance is needed to make the current around 2 milliamps or less. Using a variable resistor is probably ideal. You just use ohms law to figure out how much resistance is needed. I also put a multimeter in parallel on the circuit so I could get an amp reading. I already had a sponge at home, so I just cut out two small pieces that were about 1-2 square inches in surface area and about .5 inches deep. I soaked the sponge pieces in a salt water solution. Basically the more salt you add, the more electricity the sponge will conduct. After that I connected the sponges to the wires in a way that allowed me to just hold the sponges on my skull (my hands were not directly touching the sponges).

You just need to get one of those lance wires that can pierce the sponge so you can grasp the plastic portion while the metal part is inserted into the sponge. (Sorry I'm bad at trying to describe the set up) So doing this allowed me to control the amount of amps somewhat. The more I pressed down on the sponge on my skull with the wire, the more of an effect I got. I put the sponge with the anode on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the sponge with the cathode above my right eyelid (from my perspective). It might be better to actually use real sponge electrodes, but this was just a preliminary test.

Placing the cathode above your right eye minimizes its effect on the brain because your skull is thicker in that area. I just held the two sponges in place with my hands. Doing this allows you to control where you place the sponges and how much current you get. I started out with a really low amp reading, like .1 mA and then I slowly went up to 1 mA and then 2 mA. The setup was really simple and took me like 10 minutes to find the material around the house. So I could probably created a better device, but didn't feel like wasting the time.

Did I feel anything? Well I noticed some light flashing in my vision. I also felt a slight tingling on my skin, but it wasn't too bad. It seemed like I noticed a small effect on the brain, but not much. The first time I did it, the effect seemed ok. But then as I did it more, I didn't really like the feeling. Although I'm not positive if I got the right area of the brain so I can't be sure.

I probably won't be doing this again, but overall it didn't have any lasting negative effect. I was a little afraid of permanently changing my brain chemistry, so I didn't do it for more than 10 minutes. It certainly didn't improve my concentration, but then again my brain is fairly atypical.

I don't really recommend doing this. I was just really curious myself to see what would happen. I think long term effects are negligible so long as you keep the amps low.

Edited by hrc579, 11 July 2008 - 11:51 PM.





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