Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to make a neurostimulation device brand

1. Run a well funded university lab, where resources of people and equipment are supplied by the government or even better run a lab that is overflowing with venture capital funds.

2. Come up with a novel idea of brain stimulation: perhaps stimulating at particular frequencies and at unique places. Do clinical studies first that succeed at showing this brain stimulation has a cognitive enhancement effect on healthy people. Publish your findings and release to media that this method is not like any of the others.
3.  If you have the resources and the gumption, do a clinical study disproving the prevalent method (most researched, most used) of neurostimulation by a well organized research method that obfuscates the science.

4. You perform a media blitz saying that the prevalent method of neurostimulation is bad, will hinder performance. As the media only knows what is good and what is bad, they latch on to the paper and go ahead with "the previously reported good is now bad" type of story. Or if you don't have the gumption to do a full deception, just badmouth the prevalent method of neurostimulation when you can.

5. You release a product??  

Friday, May 1, 2015

MindStim Prototype pics

We are developing MindStim, a neurostimulation device based on tDCS.

MindStim is a full-featured, hand-held, quality tDCS device designed for safety and ease of use. This is what we have packed inside:
  • Clear current display
  • Very easy to use switch arrangement to select L (1.0mA, 1.5mA, 2.0mA)
  • 20 minute timer
  • two levels of overcurrent protection
  • Current turns off with poor electrode connection (falls off head etc.)
  • Low battery indicator and reverse polarity battery protection 
Here are some pics of the 3D printed prototype:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What is tDCS?

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a type of neurostimulation where you apply a very small level of direct current through one electrode (Anode) and it flows through the brain to another electrode (Cathode). 

This has a pronounced physiological reaction. The direct current creates a condition under the electrode that affects the neurons: the basement membrane of the neurons at the anode become more positive making them more likely to fire, and the basement membrane of the neurons at the cathode become more negative making them less likely to fire.

Through this simple method, tDCS has been researched to increase insight, improve learning of new things, and also help treat depression and stroke.

For the cognitive enhancement, it is necessary to be performing the task you want to learn while you are stimulating (or inhibiting) with a TDCS device the areas that will be neurologically active during the learned activity. This way the neurons are more likely to fire, and hence increasing brain plasticity.

But what is happening electrically?
(For a more detailed discussion on the Electrical Nature of tDCS go to the blog)

The exact pathways of current from the anode electrode to the cathode electrode through the brain is not entirely known. The modeled circuit of the head (including skin, periosteum, skull, brain..) can be considered a simple design of just a resistor. But in reality that is not the case at all with so many non uniform materials the current must flow through.

It is more likely a much more complex system with some current flowing along the connective tissue in the scalp, and some flowing through the brain. It is generally known that the current intensities are highest under the anode and cathode electrodes; but from a bigger picture of current density to increased positive charges at the basement membrane is a large step (is it capacitive from the skull, with charge buildup on both sides?) I imagine we will soon know more.