Neuroenhancement through tDCS Devices : The human species has had a long history of efforts when it comes to enhancing cognitive abilities. Various techniques of directly enhancing the brain using surgery, drugs, etc have been tried and tested in the past.
While the same does sound frightening, it also raises some serious ethical questions. That said, it is still largely believed by the medical community that the need for more research on safe cognitive enhancement techniques will benefit the human race in the long term.
tDCS devices (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) are certainly one of the most eye-catching neuroenhancement technologies that have emerged in the recent past. tDCS devices work non-invasively by producing a tiny fraction of current ranging between 1-2 milliamp that is passed through the brain via electrodes placed on the scalp. While the weak current is considered fairly insufficient to cause any neural firing, it does create higher excitability conditions within the neurons making them more likely to fire when needed.
History of tDCS
The application of current to the human brain for various medical reasons and therapy purposes has a long history. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been here for over 50 years with its applications in patients suffering from mental illness. That said, the process is considered fairly aggressive and has certain side effects to be considered. The invention of tDCS devices along with pieces of medical research supporting the safe use of the same in patients suffering from mental health issues has made it one of the most sought after technologies in the modern medical world.
As mentioned, tDCS devices work through electrodes that are externally placed on the scalp and pass small electrical current to certain parts of the brain causing nerve cell excitability. A higher excited condition of nerve cells is known to enhance the production of glutamine neurotransmitter which is essentially the basic ingredient for the brain to process information, thereby increasing cognitive awareness.
Certain researches also point to an increase in the level of hormones like serotonin and dopamine when tDCS devices are applied to the scalp. The hormones, known as mood enhancers, help in alleviating symptoms of mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, etc.
Additionally, tDCS technology is also being increasingly researched and used for enhancing basic cognitive and related abilities like memory, visual processing, learning abilities, language processing skills, etc.
While more research is constantly being undertaken, there are a few case studies to demonstrate the positive impacts of tDCS stimulation in enhancing motor functions. The medical community has been considering the same as a promising line of treatment for diseases like Parkinson’s etc in the near future.
Factors to consider before choosing a tDCS device
With multiple positive health benefits, the safety of tDCS technology and the ease of use; the demand for home-based DIY tDCS kits has surged in recent times. Choosing one out of the multiple options available in the market can often be overwhelming for a new consumer.
So, what to look for in a tDCS device? Checking for a few basic features like the build quality (medical grade product), tested for safety and accuracy, power output to provide the required current delivery, automatic current level change, in-built timer, batteries, etc are a few basic features to look for when considering a tDCS device for home use.
That is just one part though. While you’re researching the multiple brands that provide tDCS devices, it is equally important to talk to your healthcare provider to understand the possible side effects and risks, considering your personal health situation. Following the safety manual that comes with the tDCS devices is also recommended.
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