A depression treatment headset and app called Flow is being marketed in the UK and Europe by a Malmö-based company to help treat depression through brain stimulation. The user applies the headset to the forehead area and operates it through the smartphone app. The brain stimulation uses transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to restore brain activity in the frontal lobe to decrease depressive symptoms in as little as three weeks. tDCS has been found in randomized controlled trials to have a similar effect to anti-depressant drugs, but without the side effects. The treatment and company were formed by Daniel Mansson, a clinical psychologist, and neuroscientist Erik Rehn. The system is available for purchase for €45/monthly or outright purchase for €459. (Not available in the US)
‘Lockdown loneliness’ is a renewed concern as the pandemic won’t go away and we are both being advised to restrict our movements, physically distance, normal gathering places are closed or restricted, and in many areas, we are being asked to isolate again from family, friends, and co-workers. A study published in PLOS One from a 1,900+ sample of UK adults 18-87 years of age in March-April indicated the prevalence of self-reported loneliness was very high–27 percent. 49 to 70 percent of respondents reported feeling isolated Reported risk was higher in the younger age group, among those who are separated or divorced, or already meeting clinical criteria for depression or emotion regulation difficulty. Loneliness was measured using the Three-Item Loneliness Scale. With holidays coming up soon, this initial report does not bode well for the rest of the year.
MS patients in a small NYU Langone Medical Center-led pilot of neuromodulation and cognitive training using telemedicine supervision experienced significant improvement in complex attention and reaction time. Non-invasive transcranial direct current brain stimulation (tDCS) was added to a previously tested cognitive training program for MS patients. Telemedicine (real-time video) was used to deliver the training, monitor patients in the program and provide follow-up support.
The study control was a cognitive training (CT)-only group. According to the abstract, “after ten sessions, the tDCS group (n = 25) compared to the CT only group (n = 20) had significantly greater improvement in complex attention (p = 0.01) and response variability (p = 0.01) composites. The groups did not differ in measures of basic attention (p = 0.95) or standard cognitive measures (p = 0.99).” These results corresponded to the stimulation area in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, according to the lead researcher Leigh Charvet, PhD.
The current used in the tDCS unit helps neurons fire more readily, versus making them fire. The tDCS unit used was likely provided by NYC-based Soterix Medical, a developer of neuromodulation systems used in clinical trials. One of the study authors, Abhishek Datta, PhD, is their CTO.
The research is also promising in helping to deliver therapy to MS patients at home, reducing the travel need on both sides, and to develop analytics to optimize medication. In future, the researchers hope to expand the study group to Parkinson’s disease patients. MedCityNews, Neuromodulation (the official journal of the International Neuromodulation Society; abstract only, full study requires additional access)
[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/TCDS.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]At the Air Force Research Lab, Applied Neuroscience Branch
at Wright-Patterson AFB, researchers are testing transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS)
as a performance enhancer. We noted last August that DARPA
was one of the lead research organizations on tDCS for mental illness and neurological problems [TTA 18 Aug 14
]. AFRL is evaluating its effects on boosting cognition, memory and attention–all important factors when one is flying RPAs (remotely piloted aircraft, a/k/a drones) for multiple hours in front of a computer console. USAF RPA pilots (a/k/a Drone Drivers) now log three times as many flight hours as do pilots of real aircraft, which says volumes about priorities. Drone Drivers are also reporting combat fatigue and high levels of stress, so AFRL is also evaluating non-invasive ways of detection through pupil dilation and heart rate. Video (09:16)
USAF photo. Also Mosaic Science (Wellcome Trust)
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 (more…)