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News From The Future-7

Tdcs Schematic

NEWS FROM THE FUTURETranscranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) kits… via Joel.

tDCS is one of the coolest pieces of health/ self improvement technology available today. The US Army and DARPA both currently use tDCS devices to train snipers and drone pilots, and have recorded 2.5x increases in learning rates. This incredible phenomenon is achieved through a very simple device called a tDCS machine.

Today if you want to buy a tDCS machine it’s nearly impossible to find one for less than $600, and you are typically required to have a prescription to order one. We wanted a simpler cheaper option. So we made one. Then, because we’re all egalitarian like, we thought others might want one too.

The GoFlow β1 is a full kit of all the parts and plans you need to build your own tDCS device. $99 will get you one of the first β1′s and will help us develop β2!

Looks like it’s not that hard to make your own

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. walterwart says:

    With all due respect, being a beta-tester for prototype direct brain modification is kind of scary. There’s hacking. There’s cracking. And then there’s smashing….

  2. hmmmmmmm This is your brain.

    zzzzzzttttttttt This is your brain on transcranial direct current stimulation.

  3. [...]  MAKE | NEWS FROM THE FUTURE – Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) kits. This is a new twist on speed learning I found on Make Magazine.com Share this:FacebookTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  4. mrhaineux says:

    I might be mistaken, but I believe there is no LM456 “current regulator” chip. Maybe they mean an LM234 “current source” chip, which does come in a 3-pin package.

  5. GTMoogle says:

    I think this would be a great place for a disclaimer about the dangers of doing some things yourself.

    Even if your device works perfectly, a number of people can have rather drastic problems with tDCS that might require medical attention. At best try to get into a professional study, at worst, never turn one of these things on when you’re alone, especially when you just start using it.

  6. whackoman says:

    99$ for a current regulator and a resistor? I don’t know…

    But to reply to the previous poster.Looks like tDCS is pretty safe:
    http://www.trans-cranial.com/howitworks/risks.php

    1. eyepokerouter says:

      The reader should note that the posted link is from the product info of a company that makes tDCS devices. This is not necessarily an unbiased and scientific presentation of the risks. Additionally, the risks listed are those obvserved when using their device, not necessarily for tDCS as a whole. Your results may vary.

      1. whackoman says:

        In their defense, there is a footnote with a reference to what looks like an independent study. I agree that these companies must do a lot of tests to make sure that it is safe and that is where the cost comes in.

  7. Daniel Kim says:

    Definitely something you want to try out on *someone else*.
    Joking aside, it looks to me like this is a really bad idea. The brain is quite adaptable, and can be re-trained to do new things, which means that it can be inadvertently trained to do bad things as well. Subtle, temporary changes in brain behavior can, over time, be entrained into long-term behaviors with repeated exposure to stimuli. I’d hate to play with one of these, and then live with seizure disorder for the rest of my life.

  8. eyepokerouter says:

    A good portion of the $600 of the original device probably goes towards safety measures and device testing.
    DC current can be very bad for neural tissue and if you make improper contact with your skin with a current source you can easily cause burns from high current densities. Use of metal electrodes to pass DC current to the body can cause electrochemical reactions at the interface such as pH changes.
    I am guessing it is possible to mix your own aspirin as well, but I wouldn’t recommend either activity.

    1. zing says:

      This uses a few milliamps of current externally. If it was jammed into your heart muscle, it could kill you, but there isn’t any high current here.

      The metal electrodes might be a concern, seeing what it does to Scientologists.

      As for aspirin, well, people have been using willow bark for thousands of years.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin

  9. mrhaineux says:

    Also, there are plenty of alleged tDCS devices for less than $600. It’s tough to find one for $250 or under, though. I believe the legit devices (Soterix, various “iontophoresis” machines), are $300-ish, but they require someone with an FDA-approved credential (neurologist, neurological research scientist) to vouch for you.

    tDCS is currently being researched, and there are some exciting results, but it’s still in the stage of “try lots of things and see what happens.”

    However:

    1) Legit research has not tested “connect 1 mA to your earlobes” (which is what the “Bob Beck” devices do). A neurologist I know would bet money that this approach will work — as a placebo only. He suggest that the “current source” be made of an open circuit, and enhanced with a blinking LED. He is convinced that the clamping of the earlobes will furnish a good effect if you meditate while using them.

    2) Attempting to route current through specific locations on the skull (various legit studies have tried various locations) requires training/practice/skill, and also requires electrodes that can deal with hair, skin grease, etc. Nobody yet as invented something simple to use.

    It’s possible to use the sponge-like electrodes, but they require additional training/practice/skill to make them moist enough, but not too moist, etc. Also there’s some question of electrode size.

    The kind of electrodes that are most reliable, unfortunately, are the most expensive, and require at least as much skill to use correctly. And you end up with paste in your hair that you can comb out, but it’s better if you wash your hair after.

    Seriously, if you’re excited to do this, invent an “electrode hat” that requires little to no skill to apply, and does not require finicky salt water or electrode paste. That is the best possible thing to do, and can be parlayed into a multi-million-dollar business.

    Then, if you’re still interested in tDCS, find a doctor to help you get a Soterix. It has a current source, but it also measures the actual resistance and current being used as a safety precaution, provides feedback if things aren’t right, and has a micro controller to do stuff like timing, logging, etc. You could build one for a lot less than the asking price, but it’s much more complicated (and better) than a 9V with a current source chip.

    On the other hand, if you want to hang 1mA off your earlobes, the circuit described is unlikely to cause any permanent damage (if something goes wrong, you could get a jolt or a “burn”) — but no one has really tested long-term effects yet.

    1. JohnZapps says:

      You’ve clearly spent more time on this than I. It’s definitely still the early biplane era when it comes to tDCS. I can’t argue with you on anything but the stress you put on electrodes and placement thereof.

      Short of an fMRI, only trial and error will pinpoint individual variation in neuroanatomy due to neuroplasticity. The DIYer is barely at a disadvantage there. So long as it is well “buffered” whichever electrode type is used doesn’t seem critical. A smooth contact of suitably low current density seems most important.

      You could hybridize your own sponge electrode by improvising a section of dish-sponge wrapped in a sham-wow, possibly with a perforated plastic layer to limit the rate it leaks saline solution out. Overlay that with a finer-pored sponge and most of the tricky issues are greatly lessened or at least are simplified. Of course hair is still an issue. Electrode gel or a haircut do seem helpful if not mandatory.

      I’ve fiddled with this for nearly a year and have followed it since ’06 or so. The alleged effect on ADD is very real. While I don’t think it’s quite accurate to say tDCS actually causes seizures it may make any that do occur worse. If they strike during stimulation.
      Even if that does happen, tDCS has even helped in treatment-refractory epilepsy too.

      I still find it funny that it almost sounds like Gunter’s “genius hat” from Futurama.

  10. James Fugedy says:

    A direct current iontophoresis stimulator, electrodes and wiring can be purchased for $450. A physician’s prescription is required. tDCS is easy to do, but physician supervision is necessary. Even today tDCS is available for home use -with appropriate education and supervision.
    600 scientific studies utilizing tDCS have been done and abstracts are available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/. tDCS can relieve treatment-refractory depression and chronic pain, including migraine, neuralgia, CRPS and fibromyalgia. tDCS also benefits stroke rcovery, addiction treatment and disabilities, as well as, enhancing learning and improving memory -if used appropriately. Be careful, inappropriate use could worsen the same conditions.

  11. [...] MAKE | NEWS FROM THE FUTURE – Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) kits. Categories: Fun, Science, Technology Tags: Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment [...]

  12. Jeff Baird DO says:

    You all realize there is not a probe piercing brain tissue, right? These things are remarkably simple, the correct voltage and freq which can be reversed engineered and replicate the machine. The makers of microcurrent CES would have you believe there is some magical formula for their device, but they all pretty much behave the same. I have personally used one for years as has my wife. could one find a combination of frequencies which could screw someone up, yes and the CIA would be at your home the next day asking for advice. I assume at least one person put this on before they offered it to the public. Being a kid doesn’t absolve anyone from liability, relax, at worst it may not help, at best, you might sleep better.

  13. [...] have stumbled upon this article at Makezine. How wonderful is that??? I really wanted to test it…yet, as you know, just this first [...]

  14. [...] MAKE | NEWS FROM THE FUTURE – Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) kits. This entry was posted in DIY, Paper and tagged electrode hat by John. Bookmark the [...]

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  16. LCNS says:

    Hi,

    You are being invited to participate in a research study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania. Your participation is voluntary which means you can choose whether or not you want to participate.

    The Laboratory of Cognition and Neural Stimulation at the University of Pennsylvania is involved in research using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). In recent years this technology has increased in popularity, and evidence suggests that some individuals may be constructing their own stimulators for personal use. We are interested in examining the reasons behind this. Please answer the questions below, and email them to braintdcs@gmail.com to give us insight into why people make their own tDCS machines.

    Questions

    1. Where did you first learn about tDCS?
    2. Have you built your own tDCS machine?
    3. Where did you get the information to build the machine?
    4. Why did you want to try brain stimulation?
    5. How long have you been using tDCS?
    6. What were your experiences with this technology?
    7. Did you ever experience any side-effects?

    The research team may use information about you collected from your responses. By completing the questionnaire, you are giving your consent to participate in this study. Once you email us, your responses are not considered confidential since emails do not protect confidentiality.

    Thanks,

    Research Specialist
    Laboratory of Cognition and Neural Stimulation
    University of Pennsylvania

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