For starters, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation called tDCS for short is a type of neuro-stimulation which involves transmitting minimal levels of current to specific areas of the brain. It is said to have been developed by a German scientist named Michael Nitsche, and this procedure often results in interesting results.
In a series of tests, it was found that the specific brain area that was stimulated using tDCS “performed” better than before. Later on, DARPA, a US military agency, conducted a separate study among soldiers. The results revealed that the soldiers who participated in the said study have acquired new skills and learned faster. However, the soldiers were still required to learn and practice these skills in order to perform better and more efficiently.
How tDCS works
tDCS brain stimulation uses battery-controlled devices such as headgears which you can adjust in terms of duration and level of stimulation. The headgear will hold the electrode in place, and then each electrode will be connected by cables to the stimulating equipment. Electric current will then flow from the headgear to the cable connecting the electrode, which then flows to the brain.
Our brain is composed of billions of cells called neurons that control our every movement and activities inside our bodies. Neurons have their own “language” in which they use to communicate with each other, which is called synapses. Synapses can either be electrical or chemical, but the former is said to “communicate” nerve impulses up to 10 times faster than the latter.
When you undergo a tDCS brain stimulation activity, its effect can last up to 90 minutes after the end of the session. Furthermore, some studies have found that frequent brain stimulation by tDCS – say, every day for a week – can induce more prominent and long-lasting effects in the brain.
Benefits of tDCS
tDCS is not aimed to make you smarter and more physically capable. Originally, it was developed to help treat stroke and other brain-related injuries. However, it was also found to help improve your overall performance depending on the brain area stimulated.
For example, some studies found that undergoing tDCS brain stimulation can also help improve language and math skills. Likewise, tDCS was also revealed to have the ability to improve one’s attention span, problem-solving and coordination skills, and enhance memory as well. tDCS is also noted to potentially treat chronic pain and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.
One study revealed positive results of tDCS brain stimulation in a person suffering from depression, a month after receiving treatment. Another study was also found to have a positive improvement on cognitive performance on a person a year after receiving the treatment.
On the downside, several studies noted some side effects due to the treatment, albeit minor and limited only to where the electrode is located. Among noted side effects following the treatment include:
- Itching/tingling sensation
- A headache
- Nausea and dizziness
- Temporary skin redness
This is why tDCS brain stimulation should be done with proper and thorough guidance by experienced personnel.