Would You Stimulate Your Brain Electrically?

Procedure may make people smarter, more creative, and focused

8 January 2014
Image: Sebastian Kaulitzki/iStockphoto

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In a New York Times Magazine article [“Jumper Cables for the Mind,” 3 November] science journalist Dan Hurley writes about his experience with low-dose electrical stimulation to his brain to test if it makes the mind sharper. Studies have shown that transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) enhances intellect, memory, creativity, and focus. It has even been found to make people better at math and playing piano, and the results can last for months.

The procedure, conducted by a senior research associate at Harvard’s Laboratory of Neuromodulation, places one electrode on the scalp above the left prefrontal cortex and another above the right eye socket, and requires a handful of 10-minute sessions for the stimulation of nerve cells. The lab claims tDCS is safe, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is required before it could be used on the general public. According to Hurley, the process was pain-free and the side effects, such as slight reddening or tingling of the skin, minimal. The lab’s director, Felipe Fregni, says, “tDCS will not make you superhuman, but it may allow you to work at your maximum capacity.”

Would you be willing to undergo this procedure to improve your intellect and work performance? Weigh in on the comments section below.

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