Prepare to be shocked! Can brain enhancing techniques via transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) be the future of performance enhancement? Will it be the future basis of recovery from some mental illnesses, stroke and other neurological diseases? It’s a hot research area, according to this Atlantic article. Researchers at DARPA, University of New Mexico, George Mason University, Stanford University, Oxford University, University of Göttingen and this Editor’s local City College of New York (CCNY) are hot on the trail. Four areas being investigated are
- Brain stimulation will expand our understanding of the brain-mind connection
- DIY brain stimulation will be popular—and risky
- Electrical stimulation is just the beginning
- The most important application may be clinical treatment
CCNY’s Marom Bikson forcefully advocates the last for those with epilepsy, migraine, stroke and depression–and ultimately tDCS may be better than, or work best in conjunction with drug therapy. “The science and early medical trials suggest tDCS can have as large an impact as drugs and specifically treat those who have failed to respond to drugs,” he told me. “tDCS researchers go to work every day knowing the long-term goal is to reduce human suffering on a transformative scale.”
What’s not mentioned in any of this is the inexplicably taboo subject of ECT–electroconvulsive therapy–which has been around since the 1940s and has now been relegated in the last 25 years to the ‘last resort’ in major depression, when nothing else works. Perhaps this research will tie into better, more targeted techniques which avoid drugs and their considerable side effects. Also TTA from last week (11 August).