Friday, November 29, 2013

#167 session: tDCS with syntonics

I've been interested in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) ever since I'd heard about its apparent legitimacy.  Basically how it works is you pass current through your brain via anode (positive electrode) and cathode (negative electrode).  The current passes through the body, completing the circuit and if the electrodes are set up properly, the current should pass through the brain.  Whatever brain region is directly under the anode becomes depolarized (positively charged).  This brings neurons closer to the firing threshold, so they fire a lot easier since now you're injecting energy from an outside source (9-volt battery in this case), instead of relying on the body's metabolism to provide the resources to continually pump ions in and out of the neuron.  You basically release a lot of burden from the body to make the neurons work by having a 9-volt battery do the work.  And it makes the excited region of the brain work much more efficiently, and a lot of interesting consequences come from this.

There are a lot of interesting studies about how tDCS has an incredible number of potential applications.  It's known to help people with depression, recover from brain injuries, and it can also supercharge the brain so that you think better.  The military uses it to cut down on the time that it takes to train drone pilots.

Since tDCS can apparently increase neural plasticity, and since vision therapy relies on neural plasticity, it seems like these two should, in theory, be a natural pair.  So I Googled 'tDCS' and 'vision therapy'.  Sure enough, there are articles about combining vision therapy with tDCS which indicate that people who use tDCS with vision therapy recover stereopsis quicker than people who don't.  So the theory makes sense, and there are data to back it up.

I recently bought a kit for $40 from and tested it with a digital multimeter.  Sure enough, it provided the correct 2 milliamperes.  I did my normal vision therapy exercises, and then when it came to the light tube, I saturated the electrodes with some saline that I made, put the two anodes on the o1 and o2 positions on the occipital lobe, put the cathode on my right shoulder, and then plugged in the 9-volt battery.

After about five minutes I could feel some tingling.  I didn't think I would feel it because I had split the anode (so it should be 1 ampere per anode), but it was there.  It was only mildly irritating.  I had it on for about 25 minutes while I did my circular movement light tube exercise.  Then I turned it off and the tingling stopped.

It did seem to make my vision a little better while I was on it.  When I looked at my monitor from across the room it looked bigger and clearer, but it could just be my imagination.  The next day, I did notice significant improvement, especially when playing XCOM.  Things were much more 'there' during the cutscenes.

That's just with one tDCS session.  I'm going to keep using it to see what happens.  Today I think I'm going to only use one anode and place it on the o2 (right occipital lobe) region.  According to the studies, tDCS is particularly effective for getting rid of suppression.  The left eye's vision is what I want to have integrated, so that's why I'm going to concentrate the full two milliamperes on the o2 position.


  1. Yes... it's extremely exciting. But be mindful that a 9-volt battery can kill you. It's unlikely, but that's a necessary PSA about tDCS. But yes, there are a number of other interesting effects that I'm noticing that I'll blog about in future entries. Just a few things: elevated mood, time seems to move at a slower rate, much improved vision, I'm enjoying music more, and going out to see shows. Physical performance, especially that which engages the skeletal muscles, like push-ups, pull-ups, and kettlebell workouts have improved a little as well. There's also some other aspects of my physiology that have been 'boosted' that I shouldn't mention on a public forum.

    I've theorized in other posts why this might happen and it's related to the fact that different systems in the body compete with one another for resources and the brain is a particularly greedy organ. If you can reduce the need for the body to provide it with glucose, blood, ATP, etc., then those resources become available for other body processes. This is probably what's going on.