How To Electrify Your Brain To Be Smarter With A 9-Volt Battery

Transcranial direct current stimulation can make your brain work better. DARPA proved it can make you better at video games, the US Air Force has shown it cuts drone remote-pilot training in half, and Harvard researchers have used it to treat depression. So what is this magical device that powerfully manipulates your brain function?

It's not much more than a battery and a bunch of wires.

But that doesn't mean that you should try it at home. In fact, do not try this at home.

Though no one so far has reported seizures or other negative effects, sending any amount of electricity into your brain without the supervision of a medical professional is not the best idea.

That all said, it's shockingly easy to build a transcranial direct current stimulator, or tDCS, just like the one used in all of those experiments. Apparently the concept requires a 9-volt battery hooked up to some kind of resistor — (one DIYer used a Radio Shack Electronics Learning Lab) — and electrodes, which can be purchased on eBay.

Folks have been talking about the mind-hacking benefits of low-level electrical brain stimulation for years, and scientists even say we should have access to it.

Why hasn't anyone developed a product one could buy so we don't have to McGyver our own? Scientific American's blog today discusses the ethics of a so-called "electrical thinking cap". Would it be fair? Would parents be weirdly manipulating their kids' brains? Would it be like electronic brain doping?

Maybe the explanation is simpler. Maybe no one sees a profit in something that any middle-school science student could build for 10 bucks? Sure, you could maybe buy the one the Harvard researchers used, but it's really intended for clinics and costs close to $US1000. So where's the consumer version?

I can imagine folks paying for something that's beautifully designed, painless (which apparently it is for the most part, minus some discomfort getting the thing to adhere to your head, depending on how much hair you have), and makes you smarter. Better yet, it sounds like a great app! Can one of you Y combinator kids get on that please? [Scientific American]

Image: Neuropsychopharmacology


Comments

    Usually I would say give it to politicians and presidents to make them smarter, but the only thing you'll do with it is make them smarter to put us earlier into slavery.

    The other thing is when getting one, soon you'll find out that it's muppets...

    Surely there are some long term side effects perhaps wears out your brain faster? Either way I'm genuinely intrigued.

    I think it would be a good training tool. A device that helps u think hard, faster, quicker, stronger. Maybe after you have finished using it, you brain will more capable. Much like going to the gym. But yeah, genuinely intrigued. Reminds me of the film 'Limitless'.

      more than ever hour after our work is never over.

    I gone done and did tried it! I maked me much smarterer than I ever wos! I'm gunna cut the end off this mains cable and use that now. I s gonna write back when I gone done it...

    zzZZZzzttttt.......

      Shame it didn't improve you English skills. . . or did it?
      ha ha

        ". . . because Im Homer Simpson."
        Frank Grimes.

    Hahah "it’s shockingly easy"
    Nice one.

    i have had transcranial stimulation several time for psychology experiments. its a strange sensation, but stranger still is how much easier i can do logic puzzles after the stimulation! its pretty amazing stuff!

    Just make sure you get the +ve and -ve terminals the correct way!

    One reason why we don't have it as a retail product is because of stupid people and the risk of being taken to court because the idiot did something stupid, like connect it to mains voltage becuase the are really dumb and thought that 9 volts makes you smart, then 24 times that will make you 24 times smarter.

    Just saying.

      This comment was deemed inappropriate and has been moderated.

    Pretty interesting! I think, I'm gonna try, how long should I need to put the current in my head?? What happens if I invert the poles, I'll become dumb?

      Jokes aside, please don't try this at home.

        Exactly. Because what you'll get if you try this is 5 milliamps through your head rather than the 1-2 milliamps used in the experimental procedure.

        I still don't know why anyone is publishing these dangerously over-simplified diagrams. At the very minimum, put a 5kOhm resistor in series.

        Oh, and good luck finding the exact location of your left dorsal pre-frontal cortex too - If you're out by 5mm you're not going to get anything but a nasty rash on your scalp.

    tinfoil hat not included

    If you're really stupid, try it with a 240V or 3 phase supply. I can guarantee the planet's average IQ will climb over night.

    is it reversed for left handed people?

    They sell http://www.alpha-stim.com/
    Both the ALPHA-STIM® M and ALPHA-STIM® AID treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. The ALPHA-STIM® M also treats acute, chronic, and postoperative pain. The primary distinctive feature in a medical device is the waveform, and ALPHA-STIM® has a uniquely effective waveform. The application of direct electrical treatment to the brain, along with our treatment protocols for pain also makes the difference that no other device has been able to emulate. Further, ALPHA-STIM® technology has been shown to be far more cost effective than prescription drugs. Need a dr to prescribe. Can be a chiropractor. I have one for pain. It really helps! Costs $300.00 to $800.00 on the web. Connects to earlobes so does not go through the frontal cortex. My son uses for ADD. Helps to calm him. He is age 21.

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