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Biotech Medicine Technology

Brain-Zapping Gadgets Need Regulation, Say Scientists (ieee.org) 51

the_newsbeagle writes: You can now buy gadgets online that send electric current through your scalp to stimulate your brain. Why would you want to do that? Because the easy technique, called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is being investigated as a treatment for depression, a rehab aid for stroke patients, a learning enhancer for healthy people, and for many other neuropsychiatric applications.

However, the technique is so new that companies selling brain-zapping gadgets aren't bound by any regulations, and experts are worried that consumers will end up buying devices that aren't safe or simply aren't effective. So scientists and some manufacturers recently got together to discuss the scope of the problem, and what can be done about it.

Earlier IEEE reported that "Professional basketball, baseball, and American football teams are also experimenting with it," adding that some Olympic athletes, including sprinters and swimmers, even used a premarket version of one brain-zapping device to prepare for the Olympics in Rio.
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Brain-Zapping Gadgets Need Regulation, Say Scientists

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  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday September 03, 2016 @11:41AM (#52821229)

    People sneaking into Home Depot to treppan themselves has gotten to be a real problem so they had to lock up all the drills.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • People sneaking into Home Depot to treppan themselves has gotten to be a real problem so they had to lock up all the drills.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Perhaps the real problem here is the fact that society has made the concept of privacy a crime (to include any shred of medical privacy), so have fun when your IoT-enabled, cloud-driven, 21st Century electric treppan sells your soul online.

    • People sneaking into Home Depot to treppan themselves has gotten to be a real problem so they had to lock up all the drills.

      That is a silly overreaction. Instead of locking up the drills, they could have just locked up the forstner bits.

  • You can go buy alcohol, that kills brain cells, but also kills your liver. We're in the process of legalizing MJ and that definitely kills brain cells, but is worse than cigarettes for your lungs. The droud (Ringworld series by Larry Niven, direct electrical stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain) is the logical progression. Those who want to check out of reality can do so for pennies a day and their bodies stay perfectly healthy to be used as organ farms later on to pay for the cost of their l

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually MJ doesn't kill brain cells because it isn't toxic. That's why it's not possible to overdose on it. It's definitely possible to overdose on alcohol because it does have a level of toxicity.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday September 03, 2016 @12:10PM (#52821327) Journal

    One side of me says let Darwinism work its magic, but another side doesn't want to share roads with a guy having an IQ of 25.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      If they have an IQ of 25, you don't need to worry about sharing the road with them. They're going to have enough of a problem walking while drooling all over themselves.

    • One side of me says let Darwinism work its magic, but another side doesn't want to share roads with a guy having an IQ of 25.

      Maybe they'll make people into witches and warlocks too - I can propose that, so let's ban the thing!

      Actually, I can't figure out if this impulse is to protect the livestock on the tax farm or if it's just Puritanism amok. Fine, "why not both?"

  • Make it mandatory to label them with a picture of Charles Darwin.

    If you don't get the reference and you fry your brain it's no great loss.

  • This sounds more convenient than the extract of feline pineal gland that I'm currently experimenting with. Cats are crazy hard to catch in numbers.
  • My wife has a <a href="http://www.cefaly.com/">Cefaly</a> for migraines, which apparently does help at least somewhat. That's perhaps notable because there actually is a version that's FDA approved, though that may just mean that they decided it wasn't going to cook your brain.
  • In the United States, any device that offers a medical treatment or claims to have positive medical effects would already fall under FDA regulations via the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. They sort things into a bunch of different classes that determine the degree of risk and regulatory burden; anything that passes electricity into your head is probably going to need a full 510(k) registration.

    • Although low voltage and current scalp stimulation sounds innocuous, consider the new treatment for glioblastoma, Optune, which uses tuned low voltage and current AC electrical stimulation to alter the behavior of the most malignant primary brain tumor. There is a lot we don't know.

  • shocking people with electricity imagining it would cure all manner of ills has been done in centuries past, and so the merry-go-round of stupidity comes full circle again. not quite as bad as sticking radium up a kid's nose to fix sinus problems (and thereby killing a bunch of tissue at the least and causing cancer later in life at the worse...), not quite as harmless as putting magnets in bandages...

  • I went to a sleep test ordered by my doctor and I believe they used electronic stimulation also. It occurred over a year ago. The receptionist just shoved papers at me to sign while smiling innocently, saying they were "just routine," and I signed them without reading them thinking I was having just a sleep test. But, when they tested the electrodes they attached to my head and body I noticed that my calf leg twitched a couple of times. I knew immediately that they were testing OUTPUT, NOT INPUT. But I was
  • Fun fact, the inventor [royalsocie...ishing.org] of direct trans-cranial stimulation was in the same cybernetics club [wikipedia.org] as Alan Turing at Cambridge.

    Reportedly the first applications were only by devotees as it hurt like a ... and one hapless subject (also a researcher) fainted! The experimenters were dismayed as when the subject fell over he threatened to pull the lab apparatus with him, and that could have broken it as it was experimental, i.e. a hodgepodge of thrown together bits; not "patient proof". They went for the gear to stop

  • It's odd to see transcranial direct current stimulation instead of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Why would you rather have a current pass through your scalp instead of a magnetic field? It feels like the infomercial for the abdominal electrode belt that would give you a six-pack. This is a step backwards towards cheap electrodes that are easily marketed instead of forward toward TMS that can stimulate a wider variety of areas without mildly cooking your scalp.

I'm always looking for a new idea that will be more productive than its cost. -- David Rockefeller