Welcome to the new craze. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) involves using electrodes to send a weak current across the brain. Stimulating brain tissue like this has been linked to effects ranging from accelerated learning to improving the symptoms of depression and faster recovery from strokes. Zapping different parts of the brain has been linked with superior learning of new motor skills; better math skills; better social skills; superior learning and memory; and on the list goes. Also there are thousands of studies have suggested the technique may be useful for everything from schizophrenia and Parkinson’s to tinnitus and autism. Also it has been suggested to be useful for treating depression.
From a physiological perspective, tDCS affects brain function in two ways – by altering the baseline activity level of targeted neurons and by modifying functioning at synapses. The effect on neuron activity levels occurs while you zap; the synaptic influence is a longer-lasting after-effect. Specifically, depend on a whole range of factors, most obviously whether the current is positive (“anodal”), which increases neuronal activity, or negative (“cathodal”) which suppresses it. So as you can see from this, this could potentially be useful.
However, as perfect as this treatment may seem, the effects of brain zapping can accumulate over time and the long-term consequences of this are unknown. Also researchers studying tDCS are very careful to target specific brain areas. How will you know you’re zapping the right part of your brain? (We don’t know everything there is to know about the brain yet, so how can we be sure the area we’re zapping will link to a certain action?) This is particularly important for left-handers, who can have functional hubs located on a different side of the brain than usual.
My position is, that we should wait longer whilst we research the side effects of the treatment before giving out further treatment.