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Can electricity-based brain stimulation harness neuroplasticity safely?

brainstimulationDIY Brain Stim­u­la­tion Raises Con­cerns (Med­scape Today):

Recent increased inter­est in the electricity-based brain stim­u­la­tion method of tran­scra­nial direct-current stim­u­la­tion (tDCS) as a means of improv­ing cog­ni­tive abil­ity has some experts rais­ing con­cerns about the neu­roeth­i­cal issues sur­round­ing the tech­nique — par­tic­u­larly its ease of use as a make-it-yourself home device…

Those wish­ing to play it a lit­tle safer can opt to pur­chase an already assem­bled head­set online for about $249, which comes with the promise of improv­ing com­puter and video game performance…

With the click of a but­ton, the head­set sends a surge of elec­tric­ity rip­pling across the pre­frontal cor­tex, allow­ing synapses to fire faster…

The most intrigu­ing aspect of tDCS is also what makes it par­tic­u­larly wor­ri­some — the poten­tial for long-term manip­u­la­tion of neuroplasticity…

In the opin­ion piece, Dr. Reiner also cau­tioned that care should even be taken in the pub­lic dis­cus­sion of tDCS in order to pre­vent mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the technique’s safety — start­ing with refrain­ing from call­ing the tech­nol­ogy “noninvasive.”

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