Stimulation for our neurons, tDCS, is primarily used as a therapeutic activity for patients suffering from different brain injuries, including stroke. However, new research conducted on adults, who were healthy, have shown that constantly releasing low levels of current to specific brain areas can result in an increase in cognitive performance when it comes to different tasks. An increase in mathematical and analytic abilities, language skills, memory, attention span and coordination has been noted. However, the usage of tDCS, or Trans Cranial Direct Current Stimulation, does not stop there. Namely, in recent years it has been utilized as a depression and chronic pain treatment.
No organ is as complex as the brain. It consists of billions and billions of neurons, or nerve cells, which interact with each other creating synapses, or pathways. In the cerebral cortex alone there are about 15-33 billion neurons, each intricately connected with as many as thousands of other neurons. As these neurons react to all the stimuli that our body is exposed to, they are vital to our every day functioning. The synapses or pathways formed by the neurons can be either electrical or chemical. Whereas both types of synapses are essential, it is electrical impulses that play a major role as they transmit information from one neuron to another 10 times faster than the chemical ones. Here is where tDCS comes in.
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Where electrodes should be placed
Prior to placing any electrodes, you have to possess a firm knowledge of position codes, e.g. 10/20 International System. Position codes will allow you to not only estimate, but precisely determine the electrodes placement. In order to measure your head, you will need to use anatomical landmarks, presented here https://www.trans-cranial.com/tct/end-users-patients/tdcs-stimulator-products/, or on our site: Studied Electrode tDCS Placements.
It is also advisable to do proper research regarding the structure and function of each cortex.
Protocols and Montages
A “montage” is described as a possible tDCS placement of the electrodes (cathode and anode) whereas a protocol is the “montage”, current, and the time of the treatment. One of the protocols which has been widely researched is the one where anode stimulates dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex, i.e. F3 (positive:red) whereas cathode (black) is placed on top of the right eyebrow Fp2 position. The current being used in this protocol is 1mA whereas the time needed is 20 minutes. This protocol is used to enhance different cognitive functions, including learning, control of the impulses,memory, and reasoning.
The Time per Session
The duration of the sessions can vary from five to thirty minutes. Most of the research sessions lasted between 20 to 30 minutes, but clinical research has shown that even after five minutes, tDCS can produce effects that will last well after the treatment.
The Power of Current
In all of the scientific research, the power of the current ranged between 0.5mA – 2.0mA. Research conducted shows that a current less than 0.5mA will not provide noticeable results. As for currents that are more than 2.0mA, there is still not enough research which shows that they are safe and efficient. Thus said, the belief among the scientists is that longer lasting effects (after the session is over) can be produced using higher currents – up to 2mA.
Many other protocols and montages can be found on other sites as well, such as tDCS Placements, Dr. Brend William’s Blog and tDCS Australia (a guide to montages). Please note that any views and opinions stated in the sites mentioned do not necessarily reflect our opinions and views.
Disclosure: The information provided here is mostly taken from a blog, called reddit’s tDCS community, which is currently the among best sources of information on tDCS found online, according to our research.
The information stated on the reddit site is not to be taken as advice or suggestion. It should not be seen as an absolute fact. We don’t take any responsibility regarding the information, its validity and context, found on the reddit website.
Based on research, scientists do not believe that tDCS can cause damage to the brain. However, it must be stated that tDCS affects the functions of the brain and, as such, it’s not recommended to be used on your own. It is best (and recommended) to seek the advice of your healthcare professional before commencing.