Small Brain Shocks for Improved Thinking

A new study conducted by MIT shows that certain areas in the brain are benefited by a weak electrical current. This study is not the first to use this tactic, but it did show that because the primary motor cortex was improved because of the current that this area of the brain is “involved in the acquisition and early consolidation phase of implicit motor learning.”

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has funded its own studies on this topic. Research conducted by the University of New Mexico last year used what they called transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) to increase the mental awareness of soldiers. Those who volunteered for the research were given 2 millilamps to the scalp, which is “one-five-hundredth the amount drawn by a 100-watt lightbuld.”

“They learn more quickly, but they don’t have a good intuitive or introspective sense about why,” said Vincent Clark, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico.  Clark helped to conduct the experiments with volunteers by having them playing first-shooter video games and applying the shocks with a 9-volt battery.

Shock therapy is nothing new and can be dated back over two centuries. It has been used in a wide array of treatments from melancholia, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. Some of these experiments have turned out to be beneficial, and others have resulted in very negative consequences. The main question now is whether this technology should be put into the hands of people with absolutely no medical training.

That is exactly what makers of devices such as GoFlow are trying to accomplish. This will be the world’s first “DIY tDCS kit.” From the research conducted, it seems like the amount used in this device would not hurt the individual using it; however, anyone that will purchase this once it is finalized should do so with caution.