Archive for category tDCS/rTMS

[BLOG POST] tES vs. TMS: pros and cons of the two techniques

tms-vs-tes

At Neuroelectrics, we believe in the advantages and effectiveness of transcranial electric stimulation (tES) in treating numerous brain diseases. Yet, despite the increasing number of tES publications per year, the lion’s share in the market of non-invasive brain stimulation technologies is still played by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), likely because TMS received US-FDA approval in 2008 whereas tES has not yet.

Does this mean TMS is more effective? Well, it’s not quite fair to say so, considering TMS studies started at least 10 years earlier than those of tES. Therefore, there are several more clinical trials proving TMS efficacy.

However, the two techniques are close relatives: you can think of TMS as the elderly, stiff and sturdy brother, and tES as the younger, more flexible and easy-going one.
In this blogpost, we’ll go over the roots of their differences and see when and why you might prefer one over the other.

[E-fields patterns and biophysical substrates]

At a fundamental level, the two techniques rely on different physics and induce distinct patterns of electric fields (E-field) on the cortex, acting on a different neural substrate.

TMS is based on electromagnetic induction: a large magnetic coil is placed just a few centimetres above the scalp to stimulate over a specific cortical area. When the operator launches the electric pulse, vast amounts of current flows suddenly through the coil and creates a magnetic field around it, which varies rapidly in time. This changing magnetic field induces a very short (order of 1ms), highly localized (figure 1), super-threshold (order of 100V/m) E-field in the cortex. The E-field maximum is reached on the gyrus right under the coil, and the orientation is mostly parallel to the cortical surface.
The most sensitive cells to an E-field with such characteristics are interneurons and collaterals of pyramidal cells aligned tangentially to the cortical surface, which are automatically triggered to fire.

Instead, tES operates in the (quasi-)static regime, as only a small amount of direct current (DC) or low frequency alternating current (AC) is applied through electrodes placed directly on the scalp. The temporal resolution of the technique is low because the neuromodulatory effects begins a few seconds after the start of stimulation. Moreover, the E-field generated is much weaker (order of 0.1V/m) and less focalized (although the focality can be improved by using multichannel montages, it remains much lower than TMS E-field). Depending on the electrodes’ geometry, the maxima can occur on the gyri at the edges of the electrodes or between them. The overall orientation of the E-field is normal to the cortical surface, which indicates that tES probably influences layer V pyramidal neurons, as they are mostly perpendicular to the cortex.

Given the low, subthreshold intensity, the tES E-field cannot cause neural firing, but it is able to modulate the firing rate, facilitating or inhibiting the activation of pyramidal cells.

[Devices]

Other important differences concerning system setup.

TMS technology is more complex and cumbersome. The cost of the whole equipment is between 50-100k USD or Euros. This includes a wall-powered and heavy stimulator about the size of a fridge, a coil connected to the stimulator by a high-voltage cable, a mechanical arm to hold it in place, and a neuro-navigation system to accurately place the coil over the target brain region. The coil hangs suspended over the head of the patient, and since the strength of the effects depends on the coil-cortex distance, it’s crucial to keep it at the specific distance. For this, during the treatment session, the patient must sit still in a specially designed chair, with positioning frames around the chin and forehead.

On the contrary, tES is much cheaper and effortless: the cost is between an average of 6-30k USD/Euros, and the whole setup fits a shoe box. The stimulator can be as small as a mobile phone, light/portable, and almost always battery powered. The electrodes are directly in contact with the scalp, held in place by a rubber band or a neoprene cap. This way, the patient can move and even walk during the stimulation session.

[Applications]

Despite the underlying differences, TMS and tES are both quite versatile tools for treatment and research, and they offer similar options.

In research settings, you can leverage on TMS’ high spatial and temporal resolution to study how brain networks dynamically operate. In this context, TMS is usually performed online (during task performance) by applying one pulse at the onset of a stimulus (single-pulse TMS), or two pulses over separate regions which are interconnected (paired-pulses TMS). But tES too allows one to study the causal link between cortical areas. For instance, with tACS, one can simultaneously apply oscillatory currents over distinct regions at the same frequency but with different phases to promote or hamper the synchronization of functional networks.

Clinical applications of brain stimulation techniques instead tend to focus more on long-term effects, promoting network neuroplasticity that can outlast the period of stimulation.
In this case, TMS is usually ran in the repetitive mode (rTMS), which consists in multiple pulses within just microseconds. Frequency lower than 1Hz has been linked to long term depression (LTD), whereas frequency above 5Hz to long term potentiation (LTP). Similar outcomes can be achieved with tCS using either tDCS anodal or cathodal stimulation, which has been shown promoting and inhibiting synaptic activation, respectively.

The side effects of both techniques are quite moderate – with one important exception. While tES can induce only mild and temporary itching, tingling, and skin reddening when done properly, TMS might cause mild headaches, facial twitching, seizures in extreme cases.

For both TMS and tES, medical treatment must be performed mostly in clinical settings, which means you will have to find a clinician who provides these services in their clinic. However, one of the strengths of tES is the possibility to perform stimulation telemedically (under the remote guidance of a clinicians) via home-treatment. This is important as it will boost therapeutic effects for pathologies such as motor rehabilitation, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, etc in the comfort of one’s home. And it has been shown that the number of sessions modulates the length of the long-term plastic effects.

Interested in home-application of tCS? Check our home-kit here.

tes-vs-tms

Figure 1 Distribution of the E-field magnitude on the GM surface (left) and on a midsagittal slice (right) during TMS (A,C) and tDCS  with 35cm2 rectangular sponges (B, D). E-field magnitude is in V/m. Courtesy of Salvador et. al. 2015

[REFERENCES]

Polanía R, Nitsche M.A., Ruff C., Studying and modifying brain function with non-invasive brain stimulation, Nat. neurosci., 21:174–187 (2018)

Dayan E., Censor N., Buch E.R., Sandrini M, Cohen L.G., Noninvasive brain stimulation: from physiology to network dynamics and back, Nat. Neurosci., 16:838–844 (2013)

Salvador R., Wenger C., Miranda P.C. Investigating the cortical regions involved in MEP modulation in tDCS, Front. Cell. Neurosci. 9:405 (2015)

thebrainstimulator.net/brain-stimulation-comparison/caputron.com/pages/tms-vs-tdcs

 

via tES vs. TMS: pros and cons of the two techniques – Blog Neuroelectrics

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[Abstract] Effects of Bihemispheric Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Upper Extremity Function in Stroke Patients: A randomized Double-Blind Sham-Controlled Study

Abstract

Background and Purpose

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a treatment used in the rehabilitation of stroke patients aiming to improve functionality of the plegic upper extremity. Currently, tDCS is not routinely used in post stroke rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to establish the effects of bihemspheric tDCS combined with physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) on upper extremity motor function.

Methods

Thirty-two stroke inpatients were randomised into 2 groups. All patients received 15 sessions of conventional upper extremity PT and OT over 3 weeks. The tDCS group (n = 16) also received 30 minutes of bihemispheric tDCS and the sham group (n = 16) 30 minutes of sham bihemispheric tDCS simultaneously to OT. Patients were evaluated before and after treatment using the Fugl Meyer upper extremity (FMUE), functional independence measure (FIM), and Brunnstrom stages of stroke recovery (BSSR) by a physiatrist blind to the treatment group

Results

The improvement in FIM was higher in the tDCS group compared to the sham group (P = .001). There was a significant within group improvement in FMUE, FIM and BSSR in those receiving tDCS (P = .001). There was a significant improvement in FIM in the chronic (> 6months) stroke sufferers who received tDCS when compared to those who received sham tDCS and when compared to subacute stroke (3-6 months) sufferers who received tDCS/sham.

Conclusions

Upper extremity motor function in hemiplegic stroke patients improves when bihemispheric tDCS is used alongside conventional PT and OT. The improvement in functionality is greater in chronic stroke patients.

via Effects of Bihemispheric Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Upper Extremity Function in Stroke Patients: A randomized Double-Blind Sham-Controlled Study – ScienceDirect

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[WEB SITE] Can a Bit of Electricity Improve Your Brain?

Neuromodulation expands beyond health care.

PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Source: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Neuromodulation is the use of electrical, magnetic, or chemical stimulation to modulate nervous tissue function. Research studies with promising results from novel treatments using neuromodulations are emerging.

On October 4, 2019, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, led by Professor Helen S. Mayberg, M.D. at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Dr. Andrea Crowell at Emory University, showed that deep brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression for a majority of the participants had a “robust and sustained antidepressant response” in an over eight-year period, and there were not any suicides.

Earlier this year, in April, Boston University scientists Robert M. G. Reinhart and John A. Nguyen published in Nature Neuroscience a neuromodulation study that demonstrated noninvasive electrical brain stimulation temporarily improved the working memory accuracy in older adults. The study used 84 people—half between the ages of 20-29, and the other half between 60-76 years old.

The scientists hypothesize that their technique improved behavior due to neuroplastic changes in functional connectivity for up to 50 minutes afterward. Additional studies with more test subjects are needed to test the hypothesis and determine the full course potential of the effects.

These are just a few examples of the numerous research studies in neuromodulation. Neuromodulation methods include optogenetics, cochlear implants, retinal implants, deep brain and spinal cord stimulators, pharmacotherapy, and electroceuticals. Potential applications for neuromodulation may include chronic pain managementAlzheimer’s disease, depression, complications due to stroke, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, migraines, spinal cord injuries, and other conditions. Currently, there are over 590 neuromodulation clinical studies worldwide, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health’s Library of Medicine database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.

Within the growing neuromodulation market, one segment, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is moving beyond health care and is making inroads into the consumer segment. Transcranial direct current stimulation is a form of noninvasive brain stimulation using a constant weak electrical current. Typically the voltage is less than two milliamps.

One of the earliest records of transcranial direct current stimulation dates to the ancient Roman Empire. The physician to Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar, Scribonius Largus, put a live torpedo fish, an electric ray capable of delivering up to 220 volts, directly on a patient in an effort to use the animal’s electrical discharges for pain therapy.

Fast forward to present day, and transcranial direct current stimulation is being used for a variety of purposes as an emerging technology for neuroscientists, elite athletes, e-sports gamers, neurologists, musicians, and psychiatrists—sans the torpedo fish. Instead, electronic devices in various form-factors are used to deliver currents to the human brain noninvasively via the scalp. Consumer-based transcranial direct current stimulation devices operate on the principle of neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change neural connections and behavior.

“Neuroplasticity is the property of the brain that enables it to change its own structure and functioning in response to activity and mental experience,” wrote the New York Times bestselling author, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, Norman Doidge, FRCPC, in his 2015 book The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity.

An example of a consumer-based transcranial direct current stimulation device is the Halo Sport 2, a wireless headset introduced in January 2019 that stimulates the brain’s motor cortex through electrical currents to create a temporary state of neuroplasticity. Whether the activity is learning music, dance, or sports, the human brain learns movement via the motor cortex.

The device is made by venture-backed startup Halo Neuroscience, a company founded in 2013 by Daniel Chao, Brett Wingeier, Lee von Kraus, Ph.D., and Amol Sarva, with investments from Jazz Venture Partners, Lux Capital, TPG, Andreessen Horowitz, and others. To use the Halo Sport 2 is simple—neuroprime with the headset on for 20 minutes, then train for an hour afterward.

Halo Sport users include athletes, musicians, and the military—such as members of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors, the U.S. Navy SEALs, USA Cycling, the United States Ski Team, Berklee College of Music, Invictus, as well as many others.

World champion triathlete Timothy O’Donnell is a Halo Sport user. O’Donnell has over 50 podium finishes, including 22 wins. He won two IRONMAN titles, six Armed Forces National Championships, nine Ironman 70.3 races, an ITU Long Distance World Champion race, and many other prestigious competitive triathlon medals. As a world-class elite athlete, O’Donnell is constantly seeking innovative ways to improve his performance. He reportedly reached out to Halo Neuroscience after reading about the technology and incorporates Halo Sport neuropriming in his training to give him an edge.

A number of investments in neuroscience companies have emerged in recent years, such as Bryan Johnson’s Kernel, Elon Musk’s Neuralink, and Tej Tadi’s MindMaze. Other neurotechnology startups include Synchron, founded by Nicholas Opie and Thomas Oxley, BIOS founded by Emil Hewage and Oliver Armitage, BrainCo founded by Bicheng Han, Nextmind founded by Gwendal Kerdavid and Sid Kouider, Thync founded by Isy Goldwasser and Jamie Tyler, EMOTIV founded by Tan Le and Dr. Geoff Mackellar, Paradromics founded by Matt Angle, Bitbrain founded by Javier Minguez Zafra and Maria Lopez Valdes, Flow Neuroscience founded by Daniel Månsson and Erik Rehn, Dreem founded by Hugo Mercier and Quentin Soulet de Brugière, Neuros Medical founded by Jon J. Snyder, Neurable founded by James Hamet, Michael Thompson and Ramses Alcaide, Cognixion founded by Andeas Forsland, Q30 Innovations founded by Bruce Angus and Thomas Hoey, Neuroscouting founded by Dr. Wesley Clapp and Dr. Brian Miller, and Meltin MMI founded by Masahiro Kasuya, and Neuropace founded by David R. Fischell.

The global neuromodulation device industry is expected to increase to 13.3 billion by 2022, according to Neurotech Reports figures published in September 2018. Within this growing space, consumer-based transcranial direct current stimulation is an emerging market to watch.

 

via Can a Bit of Electricity Improve Your Brain? | Psychology Today

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[ARTICLE] Combining transcranial direct-current stimulation with gait training in patients with neurological disorders: a systematic review – Full Text

Abstract

Background

Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) is an easy-to-apply, cheap, and safe technique capable of affecting cortical brain activity. However, its effectiveness has not been proven for many clinical applications.

Objective

The aim of this systematic review was to determine whether the effect of different strategies for gait training in patients with neurological disorders can be enhanced by the combined application of tDCS compared to sham stimulation. Additionally, we attempted to record and analyze tDCS parameters to optimize its efficacy.

Methods

A search in Pubmed, PEDro, and Cochrane databases was performed to find randomized clinical trials that combined tDCS with gait training. A chronological filter from 2010 to 2018 was applied and only studies with variables that quantified the gait function were included.

Results

A total of 274 studies were found, of which 25 met the inclusion criteria. Of them, 17 were rejected based on exclusion criteria. Finally, 8 trials were evaluated that included 91 subjects with stroke, 57 suffering from Parkinson’s disease, and 39 with spinal cord injury. Four of the eight assessed studies did not report improved outcomes for any of its variables compared to the placebo treatment.

Conclusions

There are no conclusive results that confirm that tDCS can enhance the effect of the different strategies for gait training. Further research for specific pathologies, with larger sample sizes and adequate follow-up periods, are required to optimize the existing protocols for applying tDCS.

Introduction

Difficulty to walk is a key feature of neurological disorders [1], so much so that recovering and/or maintaining the patient’s walking ability has become one of the main aims of all neurorehabilitation programs [2]. Additionally, the loss of this ability is one of the most significant factors negatively impacting on the social and professional reintegration of neurological patients [3].

Strategies for gait rehabilitation traditionally focus on improving the residual ability to walk and compensation strategies. Over the last years, a new therapeutic paradigm has been established based on promoting neuroplasticity and motor learning, which has led to the development of different therapies employing treadmills and partial body-weight support, as well as robotic-assisted gait training [4]. Nevertheless, these new paradigms have not demonstrated superior results when compared to traditional therapies [5,6,7], and therefore recent studies advise combining therapies to enhance their therapeutic effect via greater activation of neuroplastic mechanisms [8].

Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) is an intervention for brain neuromodulation consisting of applying constant weak electric currents on the patient’s scalp in order to stimulate specific brain areas. The application of the anode (positive electrode) to the primary motor cortex causes an increase in neuron excitability whereas stimulation with the cathode (negative electrode) causes it to decrease [9].

The effectiveness of tDCS has been proven for treating certain pathologies such as depression, addictions, fibromyalgia, or chronic pain [10]. Also, tDCS has shown to improve precision and motor learning [11] in healthy volunteers. Improvements in the functionality of upper limbs and fine motor skills of the hand with paresis have been observed in patients with stroke using tDCS, although the results were somewhat controversial [1213]. Similarly, a Cochrane review on the effectiveness of tDCS in treating Parkinson’s disease highlights the great potential of the technique to improve motor skills, but the significance level of the evidence was not enough to clearly recommend it [14]. In terms of gait rehabilitation, current studies are scarce and controversial [10].

Furthermore, tDCS is useful not only as a therapy by itself but also in combination with other rehabilitation strategies to increase their therapeutic potential; in these cases, the subjects’ basal activity and the need for combining the stimulation with the behavior to be enhanced have been highlighted. Several studies have combined tDCS with different modalities of therapeutic exercising, such as aerobic exercise to increase the hypoalgesic effect in patients with fibromyalgia [15] or muscle strengthening to increase functionality in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis [16]. Along these lines, various studies have combined tDCS with gait training in patients with neurological disorders, obtaining rather disparate outcomes [17,18,19,20]. As a result, the main aim of this systematic review was to determine whether the application of tDCS can enhance the effectiveness of other treatment strategies for gait training. Additionally, as a secondary objective, we attempted to record and identify the optimal parameters of the applied current since they are key factors for its effectiveness. […]

 

Continue —>  Combining transcranial direct-current stimulation with gait training in patients with neurological disorders: a systematic review | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

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[Abstract + References] Motor stroke recovery after tDCS: a systematic review

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on motor recovery in adult patients with stroke, taking into account the parameters that could influence the motor recovery responses. The second aim was to identify the best tDCS parameters and recommendations available based on the enhanced motor recovery demonstrated by the analyzed studies. Our systematic review was performed by searching full-text articles published before February 18, 2019 in the PubMed database. Different methods of applying tDCS in association with several complementary therapies were identified. Studies investigating the motor recovery effects of tDCS in adult patients with stroke were considered. Studies investigating different neurologic conditions and psychiatric disorders or those not meeting our methodologic criteria were excluded. The main parameters and outcomes of tDCS treatments are reported. There is not a robust concordance among the study outcomes with regard to the enhancement of motor recovery associated with the clinical application of tDCS. This is mainly due to the heterogeneity of clinical data, tDCS approaches, combined interventions, and outcome measurements. tDCS could be an effective approach to promote adaptive plasticity in the stroke population with significant positive premotor and postmotor rehabilitation effects. Future studies with larger sample sizes and high-quality studies with a better standardization of stimulation protocols are needed to improve the study quality, further corroborate our results, and identify the optimal tDCS protocols.

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[WEB SIDE] RPW Technology Announces The Launch Of Liftid Neurostimulation

OSSINING, N.Y.Aug. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — RPW Technology, LLC introduces Liftid Neurostimulation (www.GetLiftid.com), a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) recreational device for consumers that can improve attention, productivity, and memory through mild electrical stimulation. Liftid uses a constant, low-level electric current, passed through two electrodes placed on the forehead area, to stimulate the brain. tDCS is one of the hottest categories in neuroscience today and supported by over 4,000 published studies.

Maximize attention and elevate performance with LIFTiD Neurostimulation.

 

Dr. Ted Schwartz, MD, a New York based neurosurgeon and RPW’s lead scientist, explains, “As has been shown in several studies, tDCS delivers a small amount of electrical current to the cerebral cortex, rendering neurons in the brain more likely to fire. As a result, the user demonstrates increased abilities, alertness and focus.”

In today’s world, most working professionals, college and grad students, video gamers, musicians, and athletes are chemically stimulating their brains through caffeine, sugar, snacks, and performance enhancers. Liftid Neurostimulation uses a safe and effective technology as an alternative to these forms of chemical stimulation.

RPW Technology is proud to be on the forefront of this emerging technology by bringing to market a tDCS device for healthy individuals (ages 18 & up) that is stylish, extremely lightweight (70 grams) including a soft, comfortable, adjustable headband, and easy to operate. Designed and developed by a team of world renowned neuroscientists, Liftid is preset for a 20 minute stimulation session and has many unique features built-in to the device. Using Liftid Neurostimulation for 20 minutes a day trains the brain to maximize attention, focus, alertness, and memory, thus putting the Liftid user in the right mindset to accomplish tasks and elevate performance.

For more information, purchase, and/or instructional video, please visit the Liftid Neurostimulation website at: www.GetLiftid.com. Unit price is $149.00, which includes an attractive and functional storage case with custom accessories and free shipping within the United States. Liftid is packaged for retail sales.

RPW Technology is a New York startup dedicated to the development and marketing of transcranial electrical stimulation devices. The company, in association with Dr. Schwartz and several neuroscientists, set out to develop a high quality, hi-tech, recreational tDCS device to introduce to consumers worldwide.

Contact for RPW Technology, LLC:
Bridget Argana
Orca Communications Unlimited, LLC
bridget.argana@orcapr.com
(480) 231-3582

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SOURCE RPW Technology, LLC

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[WEB SITE] What is neurohacking and can it actually rewire your brain?

Marc Bordons / Stocksy

What is neurohacking and can it actually rewire your brain?

Although at one point, “hack” referred to a creative solution to a tech problem, the term can apply to pretty much anything now. There are kitchen hacks, productivity hacks, personal finance hacks. Brain hacks, or neurohacks, are among the buzziest, though, thanks largely to the Silicon Valley techies who often swear by them as a way to boost their cognitive function, focus, and creativity. Mic asked a neuroscientist to explain neurohacking, which neurohacking methods are especially promising, which are mostly hype, and how to make neurohacking work for you.

First things first: Neurohacking, is a broad umbrella term that encompasses anything that involves “manipulating brain function or structure to improve one’s experience of the world,” says neuroscientist Don Vaughn of Santa Clara University and the University of California, Los Angeles. Like the other myriad forms of hacking, neurohacking uses an engineering approach, treating the brain as a piece of hardware that can be systematically modified and upgraded.

Neurohacking techniques can fall under a number of categories — here are a few of the most relevant ones, as well as the thinking behind them.

Brain stimulation

This involves applying an electric or magnetic field to certain regions of the brain in non-neurotypical people to make their activity more closely resemble that seen in a neurotypical brain. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration approved transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) — a noninvasive form of brain stimulation which delivers magnetic pulses to the brain in a noninvasive manner — for major depression. Since then, the FDA has also approved TMS for pain associated with migraines with auras, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Established brain stimulation techniques (such as TMS or electroconvulsive therapy) performed by an expert provider, such as a psychiatrist or neuroscientist, are generally safe, Vaughn says.

Neurofeedback

This one involves using a device that measures brain activity, such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) or a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. People with neuropsychological disorders receive feedback on their own brain activity — often in the form of images or sound — and focus on trying to make it more closely resemble the brain activity in a healthy person, Vaughn says. This could happen through changing their thought patterns, Vaughn says. Another possibility is that the feedback itself, or the person’s thoughts about the feedback, may somehow lead to a change in their brain’s wiring.

Reducing cognitive load

This means minimizing how much apps, devices, and other tech compete for your attention. Doing so can sharpen and sustain your focus, or what Vaughn refers to as your attention quotient (AQ). To boost his AQ, Vaughn listens to brown noise, which he likens to “white noise, but deeper.” (Think the low rush of a waterfall versus pure static.) He also chews gum, which he says provides an outlet for his restless “monkey mind” while still allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

Reducing cognitive load can also deepen your connection with others. Vaughn uses Voicea, an app based on an AI assistant that takes and store notes of meetings, whether over the phone or in-person, allowing him to focus solely on the conversation, not on recording it. “If we can quell those disruptions that occur because of the way work is done these days, it will allow us to focus and be more empathic with each other,” he says.

Monitoring sleep

Tracking your sleep patterns and adjusting them accordingly. Every night, you go through around five or so stages of sleep, each one deeper than the last. “People are less groggy and make fewer errors when they wake up in a lighter stage of sleep,” Vaughn says. He uses Sleep Cycle, an app that tracks your sleep patterns based on your movements in bed to rouse you during your lightest sleep stage.

Andrey Popov / Shutterstock

Microdosing

Microdosing is the routinely consumption of teensy doses of psychedelics like LSD, ecstasy, or magic mushrooms. Many who practice microdosing follow the regimen recommended by James Fadiman, psychologist and author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys: a twentieth to a tenth of a regular dose, once every three days for about a month. While a regular dose may make you trip, a microdose has subtler effects, with some users reporting, for instance, enhanced energy and focus, per The Cut.

Nootropics

These are OTC supplements or drugs taken to enhance cognitive function. They range from everyday caffeine and vitamin B12 (B12 deficiency has been associated with cognitive decline) to prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall, used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, as well as Provigil (modafinil), used to treat extreme drowsiness resulting from narcolepsy and other sleep disorder. (All three of these drugs promote wakefulness.) The science behind nootropic supplements in particular remains rather murky, though.

Does neurohacking work, though?

Vaughn finds microdosing, neurostimulation, and neurofeedback especially promising for neuropsychological disorders. Although studies suggest that larger doses of psychedelics could help with disorders such as PTSD and treatment-resistant major depression, there are few studies on microdosing psychedelics. “The little science that has been done…is mixed—perhaps slightly positive,” Vaughn says. “Microdosing is promising mainly because of anecdotal evidence.” Meanwhile, neurostimulation can be used noninvasively in some cases, and TMS has already received FDA approval for a handful of conditions. Neurofeedback is not only non-invasive, but offers immediate feedback, and studies suggest it could be effective for PTSD and addiction.

But it’s important to note that just because these methods could positively alter brain function in people with neuropsychological disorders, that “doesn’t mean it’s going to take a normal system and make it superhuman,” Vaughn says. “I think there are lots of small hacks to be done that could add up to something big,” rather than huge hacks that can vastly upgrade cognitive function, a la Limitless. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, the human brain is already pretty damn optimized. “I just don’t know how much more we can tweak it to make it better,” Vaughn says.

As far as enhancements for neurotypical brains, he says that “you’ll probably see a much greater improvement” from removing distractions in your environment to reduce cognitive load than say, increasing your B12 intake — which brings us to an important disclaimer about nootropic supplements in particular. As with all supplements, they aren’t FDA-regulated, meaning that companies that sell them don’t need to provide evidence that they’re safe or effective. Vaughn recommends trying nootropics that research has shown to be safe and effective, like B12 or caffeine.

How can I start neurohacking?

As tempting as it is, adopting every neurohack under the sun is “not the answer,” Vaughn says. Remember, everyone is different. While your best friend may gush about how much her mood has improved since she began microdosing shrooms, your brain might not respond to microdosing—or maybe taking psychedelics just doesn’t align with your ethics.

Start by exploring different neurohacks, and of course, be skeptical of any product that makes outrageous claims. Since neurofeedback isn’t a common medical treatment, talk to your doctor about enrolling in academic studies on neurofeedback, or companies that offer it if you’re interested, Vaughn says. You should also talk to your doctor if you want to try brain stimulation. A doctor can prescribe you Adderall, Ritalin, or Provigil but only for their indicated medical uses, not for cognitive enhancement.

Ultimately, neurohacks are tools, Vaughn says. “You have to find the one that works for you.” If anything, taking this DIY approach to improving your brain function will leave you feeling empowered, a benefit that probably rivals anything a supplement or sleep tracking app could offer.

 

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[Abstract] Comparison between Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Acupuncture on Upper Extremity Rehabilitation in Stroke: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Abstract

Objective: To compare the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) with traditional Chinese acupuncture on upper-extremity (UE) function among patients with stroke.

Materials and Methods: Participants with subacute to chronic stroke who had moderate to severe UE functional impairment were randomly allocated to the TDCS or electro-acupuncture group, then underwent three weeks of physical therapy and occupational therapy, with 20 minutes of a-TDCS (2 mA) or electro-acupuncture applied during training once weekly. Primary outcome was determined using the Fugl-Meyer Assessment of motor recovery at 1-month follow-up.

Results: The 18 participants were allocated into two groups. Fugl-Meyer Assessment increased in both the TDCS and electroacupuncture groups (5.00±3.08, p=0.001 and 7.4±4.9, p=0.002, respectively). However, no difference was found between groups, and no significant difference was observed in grip strength and task specific performance in both groups.

Conclusion: The application of TDCS might provide benefits in recovering hand motor function among patients with subacute to chronic stroke but does not go beyond those of electro-acupuncture.

via Comparison between Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Acupuncture on Upper Extremity Rehabilitation in Stroke: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial | Hathaiareerug | JOURNAL OF THE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OF THAILAND

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[Abstract] Role of Interhemispheric Cortical Interactions in Poststroke Motor Function

Background/Objective. We investigated interhemispheric interactions in stroke survivors by measuring transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)–evoked cortical coherence. We tested the effect of TMS on interhemispheric coherence during rest and active muscle contraction and compared coherence in stroke and older adults. We evaluated the relationships between interhemispheric coherence, paretic motor function, and the ipsilateral cortical silent period (iSP).

Methods. Participants with (n = 19) and without (n = 14) chronic stroke either rested or maintained a contraction of the ipsilateral hand muscle during simultaneous recordings of evoked responses to TMS of the ipsilesional/nondominant (i/ndM1) and contralesional/dominant (c/dM1) primary motor cortex with EEG and in the hand muscle with EMG. We calculated pre- and post-TMS interhemispheric beta coherence (15-30 Hz) between motor areas in both conditions and the iSP duration during the active condition.

Results. During active i/ndM1 TMS, interhemispheric coherence increased immediately following TMS in controls but not in stroke. Coherence during active cM1 TMS was greater than iM1 TMS in the stroke group. Coherence during active iM1 TMS was less in stroke participants and was negatively associated with measures of paretic arm motor function. Paretic iSP was longer compared with controls and negatively associated with clinical measures of manual dexterity. There was no relationship between coherence and. iSP for either group. No within- or between-group differences in coherence were observed at rest.

Conclusions. TMS-evoked cortical coherence during hand muscle activation can index interhemispheric interactions associated with poststroke motor function and potentially offer new insights into neural mechanisms influencing functional recovery.

 

via Role of Interhemispheric Cortical Interactions in Poststroke Motor Function – Jacqueline A. Palmer, Lewis A. Wheaton, Whitney A. Gray, Mary Alice Saltão da Silva, Steven L. Wolf, Michael R. Borich, 2019

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[WEB PAGE] The Use of Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Specifically Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation After Stroke

Motor impairment is a leading cause of disability after stroke. Approaches such as noninvasive brain stimulation are being investigated to attempt to increase effectiveness of stroke rehabilitation interventions. There are several types of noninvasive brain stimulation: repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS), transcranial alternative current stimulation, and transcranial pulsed ultrasound to name a few. Of the types of noninvasive brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and tDCS have been most extensively tested to modulate brain activity and potentially behavior. These two techniques have distinctive modes of action. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation directly stimulates neurons in the brain and, given the appropriate conditions, leads to new action potentials. On the other hand, tDCS polarizes neuronal tissue including neurons and glia modulating ongoing firing patterns. There are also differences in cost, utility, and knowledge skill required to apply tDCS and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Transcranial direct stimulation is relatively inexpensive, easy to administer, portable, and may be applied while undergoing therapy, with lasting excitability changes detectable up to 90 minutes after administration. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation equipment is bulkier, expensive, technically more challenging, and a patient’s head must remain still when treatment is being applied therefore needs to be administered before or after a session of rehabilitation. Because of these differences, tDCS has been more accessible and has rapidly grew as a potential tool to be used in neurorehabilitation to facilitate retraining of activities of daily living (ADL) capacity and possibly to improve restoration of neurological function after stroke.

There are three current stimulation approaches using tDCS to modulate corticomotor regions after stroke. In anodal stimulation mode, the anode electrode is placed over the lesioned brain area and a reference electrode is applied over the contralateral orbitofrontal cortex. Anodal tDCS is placed over the ipsilesional hemisphere to improve the responses of perilesional areas to training protocols. In cathodal stimulation, the cathode electrode is placed over the nonlesioned brain area and reference electrode over the contralateral (ipsilesional) orbitofrontal cortex. This approach has been predicated on the hypothesis that the nonstroke hemisphere will be inhibited by tDCS resulting in an increased activation of the ipsilesional hemisphere due to rebalancing of a presumably abnormal interhemispheric interaction. Although some studies have shown this approach to be beneficial, the causative role of interhemispheric interaction imbalance has been recently challenged and refuted.1 Thus, if cathodal stimulation approaches are beneficial, the behavioral effect cannot be explained by a presumed correction of abnormal interhemispheric connectivity. Finally, dual tDCS approach involves simultaneous application of the anode over the ipsilesional and the cathode over the contralesional side. Here again, the intended mechanism of action is to rebalance the presumably abnormal interhemispheric interaction.

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CLINICAL QUESTIONS ADDRESSED

What is the best tDCS type and electrical configuration? What are the effects of tDCS with rehabilitation program for upper limb recovery after stroke?

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RESEARCH FINDINGS OF tDCS

This short article discusses data obtained from a network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and a recent meta-analysis. The network meta-analysis included 12 randomized controlled trials including 284 participants examining the effect of tDCS on ADL function in the acute, subacute, and chronic phases after stroke.2 The meta-analysis included 9 studies with 371 participants in any stage after stroke.3

The network meta-analysis found evidence of a significant moderate effect in favor of cathodal tDCS without significant effects of dual tDCS, anodal tDCS, or sham tDCS. There was no difference in safety (as assessed by dropouts and adverse events) between sham tDCS, physical rehabilitation, cathodal tDCS, dual tDCS, and anodal tDCS. Elsner in a previous review of tDCS in 2016 found an effect on improving ADL, as well as function of the arm and lower limb, muscle strength, and cognition. Thus, the findings from the most recent meta-analysis indicating cathodal that tDCS improves ADL capacity are in line with previous meta-analyses. Of note, there was no evidence of an effect of either cathodal or other tDCS stimulation approaches on upper paretic limb impairment after stroke as measured by the Fugl-Meyer scale.

A meta-analysis that included participants in any stage after the stroke showed that tDCS in conjunction with multiple sessions of rehabilitation had no significant effect over delivering therapy alone for upper limb impairment and activity after stroke. This negative finding might be due to patient’s being in an acute, subacute, or chronic stage after stroke as well as variations in the type of therapy performed paired with tDCS (ie, conventional vs. constraint-induced movement therapy vs. robot protocol).

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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PHYSIATRIC PRACTICE

There seems to be a modest effect supporting the use of tDCS as a co-adjuvant of rehabilitation interventions to improve ADLs after stroke. Cathodal tDCS seems to be the most promising approach, especially when applied early after the stroke. However, the evidence remains preliminary and does not warrant a widespread change in clinical rehabilitation practice at this time.

There is no evidence supporting the use of tDCS to improve motor impairment (as measured by the FMS) at this point.

Importantly, tDCS remains as a very safe intervention, with no differences in safety when real vs. control tDCS is applied.

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REFERENCES

1. Xu J, Branscheidt M, Schambra H, et al: Rethinking interhemispheric imbalance as a target for stroke neurorehabilitation. Ann Neurol 2019;85:502–13

2. Elsner B, Kwakkel G, Kugler J, et al: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for improving capacity in activities and arm function after stroke: a network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. J Neuroeng Rehabil 2017;14:

3. Tedesco Triccas L, Burridge J, Hughes A, et al: Multiple sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation and upper extremity rehabilitation in stroke: a review and meta-analysis. Clin Neurophysiol2016;127:946–55

via The Use of Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Specifically Trans… : American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

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