Brain Stimulation - tDCS
Alternative medicine can take many forms. In many cases it can simply involve the practice of finding the best and simplest technologies and using them in the safest and most effective way possible.
The technologies we are currently working with at the Clinical Neuroscience Center in Psychology at UNM are summarized on this page. We are working to evaluate and improve these methods in our laboratory and in the laboratories of our collaborators.
Links are also provided to highlight other research laboratories that are working using simpler, cheaper, safer and more effective methods of treatment.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a technique that involves using a device to pass a very small electrical current derived from a 9-volt battery through electrodes placed on the scalp. This produces a small electrical field that penetrates the scalp and skull, and enters the brain. Depending on the location of the electrodes, and the amplitude, duration and polarity of the electrical current, it produces slight changes in brain activity. These produce changes in brain networks and ultimately in the behaviors that these networks control.
TDCS offers many advantages over chemically-based methods of treatment. It is non-invasive, in that no material penetrates the skin. There are few side effects. The systems are small and portable, and relatively inexpensive. They are powered by a small 9-volt battery, which provides 10-20 doses, making the cost just a few cents per dose.
Methods that are similar to tDCS have been in use for thousands of years, but these were all but forgotten by modern medicine until a few medical scientists revived the technique over the past two decades. As a result, many new applications are being found for this method, developing new treatments for a variety of brain and mental illnesses, and neuroenhancements to increase learning and performance in healthy people.
TDCS has been found to be effective for enhanced learning in our laboratory. A single, small positive electrode was placed on the right temple and a similar negative electrode was placed on the opposite arm. 2.0 mA of current were applied for 30 minutes, during the first half of a total of 1 hour of training. In another group, 0.1 mA of current was used, with everything else the same. Subjects were asked to learn to identify objects hidden in a virtual environment. Using this protocol, a huge increase in performance was found for subjects receiving 2.0 mA of current relative to those receiving 0.1 mA. This basic effect has been observed in over 100 research subjects across a number of studies.
OTHER RESEARCH CENTERS THAT PERFORM TDCS-BASED RESEARCH
CLINICS THAT OFFER TDCS AS A TREATMENT
The abstracts of our published tDCS studies can be found by clicking here.
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