Top Tech Day 16: Transcranial Stimulation

Transcranial stimulation is a technology that has been getting a lot of attention, but only in very scattered areas. At its most fundamental level, transcranial stimulation involves stimulating the brain in a targeted location for a desired affect. Very simple experiments were performed in the late 1700s and early 1800s by such scientists as Galvani, Volta, and Aldini. The modern incarnation arose in the late 1990s and early 2000s when researchers showed that weak direct electric currents could be safely and effectively delivered to induce bidirectional, polarity dependent changes.

There are currently three types of transcranial stimulation:

Transcranial Direct Stimulation (TCDS) uses electric current.

Transcranital Magnetic Stimulation (TCMS) uses magnetic fields.

Transcranial Ultrasound (TUS) uses ultrasonic waves, and can target much deeper tissues than the previous two.

Researcher Allan Snyder has received a lot of attention for his research on using TCS to induce selective savant states, like improving numerical visual analysis or memory, and is the head of the Centre for the Mind in addition to advising EEG detection headset company Emotiv. His work has also shown that use of TCS can quantitatively improve creativity and ability to solve problems ‘outside the box’, which is of great interest to any number of industrial and governmental sectors.

While TCS has been around and actively worked on for the last decade, Prokalkeo thought it was worth noting today due to the fact that on the 13th, the FDA approved the marketing of the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator to relieve pain caused by migraine headaches. While this is not yet approval for usage to ‘boost’ capabilities, it does show that such uses are beginning to be approved for consumer use. A number of non-FDA approved kits are also available on the market, but cannot be marketed for specific medical uses.

For further information, either go to the Center of the Mind link above, or watch the video on TCDS for neuroenhancement below by Dr. Vince Clark, a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. The talk is from the Summit on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation.

Posted in Top Tech 2013