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Trend: Consumers experiment with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with no regulatory oversight

-- DIY tDCS device: Four 9-volt batteries and sticky self-adhesive electrodes, connected by a circuit board. Courtesy of Matt Herich

– DIY tDCS device: Four 9‑volt bat­ter­ies and sticky self-adhe­sive elec­trodes, con­nect­ed by a cir­cuit board. Cour­tesy of Matt Herich

Stu­dents Zap Their Brains For a Boost, For Bet­ter Or Worse (NPR):

Last Octo­ber, Matt Herich was lis­ten­ing to the news while he drove door to door deliv­er­ing piz­zas. A sto­ry came on the radio about a tech­nol­o­gy that sends an elec­tric cur­rent through your brain to pos­si­bly make you bet­ter at some things — mov­ing, remem­ber­ing, learn­ing. He was fas­ci­nat­ed.

The neu­rotech­nol­o­gy is called tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion, or tDCS for short. At its sim­plest, the method involves a device that uses lit­tle more than a 9‑volt bat­tery and some elec­trodes to send a low-inten­si­ty elec­tri­cal cur­rent to a tar­get­ed area of the brain, typ­i­cal­ly via a headset…Although researchers see pos­si­bil­i­ties for tDCS in treat­ing dis­eases and boost­ing per­for­mance, it’s still an explorato­ry tech­nol­o­gy, says Mark George, edi­tor-in-chief of Brain Stim­u­la­tion, a lead­ing jour­nal on neu­ro­mod­u­la­tion. And lead­ing experts have warned against at-home use of such devices…

When Herich fin­ished his shift deliv­er­ing piz­zas, he raced home and began googling. He found a thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ty on Red­dit and oth­er online forums ded­i­cat­ed to dis­cussing ways to self-admin­is­ter tDCS…Herich is not alone — beyond the DIY neu­rostim­u­la­tion com­mu­ni­ty, com­pa­nies are cash­ing in on the phe­nom­e­non, offer­ing brain stim­u­la­tion kits and ready-to-wear head­sets, like Thync and Halo. While the sim­plest devices can be made with items found in a hard­ware store, the best-sell­ing ver­sions like Acti­va­Dose or the can cost more than $300.”

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