Electronic Brain Stimulation – The New Era of Cognitive Enhancement
Transcranial direct current stimulation is a process in which constant low current is provided to a particular brain area to stimulate it for specific purposes. The technique was originally developed to treat the brain disorders like depression and schizophrenia. Recently, researchers have come up with fresh evidence suggesting that the process can be very useful for cognitive enhancement and increasing the memory function of the brain.
How Does that Happen?
The mechanism of action of transcranial direct current stimulation of brain is that it alters the resting membrane potential of the neurons to hyperpolarize or depolarize. Now, the thing is that the brain does all its function by the virtue of varying electrical charges across the membranes of the neurons. The positive excitation or anodal TDCS is used to hyperpolarize the brain cells. It increases the excitability of the neurons and hence they can process information faster and handle memory items easily.
On the other hand, cathodal TDCS or negative current stimulation depolarizes the brain cells, causing them to be lesser excitable and decreases the function of specific targeted areas of brain and can be used to slow the brain function to stop depression and overthinking while the subject can carry out regular activities. This is not possible by using chemical stimulation as the whole brain is affected by that.
The benefit of TDCS is that its effects tend to sustain even after the stimulation is discontinued. It is discovered in researches that the effects of TDCS (like elevated brain function and cognition) can be made permanent if the process is done continuously and proper amounts and intensities of current are delivered to the target areas of the brain. Safety and Side Effects The adverse effects of TDCS are mostly limited to minor itchiness and redness at the site of the stimulation and headaches. When the proper safety protocols are properly followed, the process is a totally safe process of brain stimulation.
The safety protocols for TDCS are
- Limit of Current The process of TDCS is being studied for more than a decade and as a result the researchers have agreed that the maximum allowable current to be used for the process must not be more than 2 mA and currently the most used intensity of the current is 1 mA.
- Frequency of stimulation
- Duration of Stimulation
According to research, the most suitable and ideal time for stimulation is 20 minutes and mostly a 10 minutes session is enough to obtain the desired results. In no case should a single session should increase 25 minutes.
- Monitoring Proper monitoring should be done to reduce the risks of adverse effects. The most important thing is to monitor the intensity of current per unit area of the brain. Experts suggest that the ideal limit is 130 Ampere per meter square of brain. Humans have done a lot of research on the functioning of brain and increasing its functionality. This is just the beginning, much more is to come.