This placement has been getting a lot of publicity lately due to the fact it’s been used with DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) with incredible results as well. DARPA experimented with this placement by testing it on their snipers while learning new material along with snipers using “sham” tdcs (sham stimulation is a generic term to indicate an inactive form of stimulation).

The results they found were staggering, the snipers which were using the true tDCS had cut their learning curves in half! The placement they used consists of a anodal stimulation to F10 while the cathode is attached to the opposite upper arm. The stimulation session was 30 minutes long with 2 milliamps of current.


Below is a chart showing the results of the DARPA training with tDCS being represented with red and the sham stimulation with blue. As you can see the tDCS was considerably higher in most cases.

13 thoughts on “DARPA’s Accelerated Learning

  1. I also experience incredible relaxation and pure focus while using this montage. Additionally, I find (as Sally Adee stated in her article) that for a few days after using this setup, all the little nagging voices in my head go away. It’s like I can see the world in a much calmer light. I notice that things that would usually bug me just kind of roll off my shoulder like they’re not a big deal.
    Additionally, when I have to react in what would normally be an uncomfortable situation, I’m able to better make decisions and be confident with my choice.

  2. Just so we’re clear, calling this an “Accelerated Learning” montage is a misnomer. If anything it’s for focus. DARPA used this montage to accelerate the learning of a specific task done by snipers. So in a sense it can cut the learning curve for task related to this particular state of mind, however it is not just some generic ‘Accelerated Learning’ montage that can cut the learning curve on something like learning a new language. (For that, I imagine anode T3, cathode right arm, would be much more affective.)

    Do this montage if you literally want the calm focus of a trained sniper. It will not work if you’re looking to just cheat the learning curve of shooting free throws. (For that I’d use anode C4/C3, cathode Fp1/Fp2).

    Hope this helps.

  3. What is the most practical way of attaching the “upper arm” electrode for this placement? I’ve heard it described as being placed on the shoulder, the lower neck, upper arm, etc., but I’ve not been able to find any descriptions, pictures, or methods of holding this upper arm electrode in place. I’m using saline wetted sponge electrodes on the head, held in place with elastic. When I try to use an elastic band for the upper arm the electrical connection is less than optimum. And trying to use an elastic band to attach an electrode to the shoulder or the lower neck is problematic at best. Can someone please clarify these placement methods?

  4. Is it just me, or has anyone else wondered why DARPA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defence, would disclose precise details of its project to make dramatic improvements in sniper training by using relatively simple tDCS methods?

    Perhaps they want to play fair so that the Taliban can train their snipers to become crack shots too?

    Let’s hope we’re not just considered acceptable collateral damage in a project to fry the brains of the enemy.

    If you think I’m an old cynic, perhaps some of you may remember the 1960’s Mohole Project?
    Mohole was a multimillion government project, supposedly, to ocean drill seven miles deep to the earth’s mantle to see what it is made of. The involvement of Howard Hughes and Bob Ballard as prime movers and shakers should have been the clue to us avid followers that all was not as it seemed.

    Many years later it was leaked that the Mohole Project had been part of Project Azorian, a CIA disinformation cover to draw attention away from the real use of Hughes’ Glomar Explorer to recover the sunken Soviet submarine K-129. Various other vessels supposedly developed for the Mohole project were actually part of an at sea floating workshop program to support the American nuclear submarine fleet.

    The CIA must have laughed like drains when the Soviets won the ‘mantle race’ by drilling a totally useless 7.5 mile deep hole to beat the Americans. Any of you guys want to see what the mantle is made of just come and visit me on the Lizard Peninsular, Cornwall UK, one of only two places on earth where the mantle pierces the earth’s crust.

    Plateful of fried brains anyone?

    • I can’t tell how tongue in cheek this comment is but the answer to your question is two-fold: 1) it’s a fascinating result but from a purely strategic or tactical perspective very low value. When the military makes a list of problems when engaging with Taliban and similar, the “speed with which snipers are trained” is not even going to make the list; it’s just not of practical relevance in any of the conflicts and 2) DARPA has a public service role as well as a military role; part of the way they justify their budget is by pointing out how much they give back to the scientific community — in other words, by releasing the results of experiments like this they protect their future budgets, some of which can be used on projects of high strategic or tactical value.

      But having said that, it is indeed amusing to see how many mis-steps the CIA and proto-DARPA agencies made at the height of the coldware. I mean MK Ultra outcrazies Mohole by a longshot.

      Plus, everyone knows the Russians faked that mantle hole footage. If you look at the sickle and hammer on the flag closely, you’ll see a second shadow from the studio lights.

  5. Has anyone used this for musical training? I wanted to try and learn Jazz Guitar while using this technique and wonder if there was a best position, or if I should just start experimenting.

    Also, any tips for how to best affix the electrode to the hairy part on your head?

  6. newb question – is the stimulation applied while learning the skill or is the stim applied for 30 minutes and then you go off an learn the skill having gained an increased ability to focus?

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