So you’ve been researching tDCS for quite some while now (or maybe the past 10 minutes) and you’re starting to get antsy to start stimulating your brain. But you first want to know exactly what’s happening inside your noggin and why tDCS has had such impressive results over the years, cue this blog post.
As you are already aware tDCS involves using electricity, batteries and wet sponges on your head. Sounds pretty dangerous until you consider that the amount of current going through your head is 2 milliamps, to put that in perspective the small little watch battery you see to your right is 1.5v, which converts to 1500 milliamps! If you do decide to embark on creating a homemade tDCS device please make sure you know what you’re doing, these devices are safe… when made by someone who knows what they are doing. If you ever need help contact the tDCS’s reddit board, great group of intelligent people who are always willing to lend out a helping hand.
But back to the main event, what is really happening to you’re brain during stimulation? Well it’s a simple concept with a complex explanation. Basically when you are putting on the anode and cathode of your device, you are completing the circuit your device requires to run properly. Once you flip the switch (or turn the knob or jam the wire in the breadboard) the electricity flows through your brain and the effects begin.
The anode of your device begins to induce a depolarization change on your neurons resting membrane potential, this makes the neuron more excitable and more “willing” to fire which in return strengthens the neural connection. And as you can probably guess the opposite happens simultaneously at the cathode connection, but rather than depolarizing the resting membrane potential, it hyperpolarizes it causing them to become less responsive.
tDCS’s effects can be seen after stimulation with some effects recorded to be 6 months! Evidence suggests that during stimulation certain proteins increase and causes the brains plasticity to heighten, leaving it in a “wet clay” state (great metaphor from nature.com) which can be molded to perfection later on.
And that in a nut shell is what is happening inside your head during a stimulation session. If this was a little too basic for your heightened knowledge then give this a read as it contains loads of juicy information!