Do-it-yourself brain stimulation has scientists worried as healthy people try to make their minds work better
Dave Siever always fancied himself as something of a musician, but also realized he did not necessarily sing or play in perfect key.
Then he strapped on the electrodes of a device made by his Edmonton company, and zapped his brain’s auditory cortex with a mild dose of electricity. The result, he claims, was a dramatic improvement in his ability to hear pitch, including the sour notes he produced himself.
“Now I tune everything and I practise my singing over and over and over again, because I’m more sensitive to it.”
Mr. Siever was not under the supervision of a doctor or psychologist, and nor is he one himself. He is part of an extraordinary trend that has amateur enthusiasts excited, and some scientists deeply nervous: do-it-yourself brain stimulation.
The device he used delivers transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a technology that researchers worldwide have used to produce a flood of intriguing, if preliminary, studies in recent years. They suggest tDCS can both treat diseases like depression and make healthy people’s minds work better. (Photo: Jason Franson for National Post)