Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trust Me, I'm a Fully Qualified Do It Youself NueroPhysiologist!

In response to a friend's post inquiring about the effectiveness of nuero-enhancing medications, I said:

Have you considered direct electrical stimulation of the brain? 

From the Forum column of Scientific American February 2014: Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) applies electrodes to the scalp which then deliver miniscule amperages of current to the brain.  For reasons not fully understood this  causes adjustments in the electrical potentials of the membranes of the neurons closest to the electrodes, increasing or decreasing their likelihood of firing. Again, for reasons not entirely understood, measurable improvements in memory, language, attention, and other cognitive domains can result.

Although the authors go on to state that the FDA has not yet approved this procedure and that the consensus among experts is that it should be performed only under qualified supervision, they point out that it is:

A. Safe, portable, easy to implement, and inexpensive. (If used properly.)

B. Some do-it-yourselfers have already built and are using their own devices at home.

It is reported that the effects of this device make users smarter, faster, and more attentive.

I bet you and Nick could whip up one of these over a weekend. If you do, I'd love to see a video of the results.

PS, if you do try this and post a video to YouTube you will get more hits if Nick rubs his hands together and gleefully chortles "It's alive! It's alive!" at the end of the experiment.

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