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Given articles like this, and their associated research {1}, I am developing an interest in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and other forms of brain stimulation as they appear like they may have. I might be interested in trying it at home.

As a result I would like ask for evidence to help me answer one or more of the following questions:

  1. What is the best headset for brain stimulation that a normal person can buy or build? I am aware of these, but would like the opinion of an expert.
  2. What are the best online communities, or sources of information for conducting brain stimulation at home?
  3. How should I engage in brain stimulation at home? A guide, or link to one would be appreciated
  4. Is it safe to conduction brain stimulation at home? If there is evidence that one type of brain stimulation, and/or headset is safe then please provide evidence of this.

Reference

{1} Santarnecchi, E., et al. (2016). "Individual differences and specificity of prefrontal gamma frequency-tACS on fluid intelligence capabilities." Cortex 75: 33-43.

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At the moment, there are no TMS/tDCS protocols that were approved for the home use in USA or EU. So, please, don´t. Fortunately, TMS devices are quite expensive and cannot be used by a single man. tDCS is easier, but decent companies on the market like NeuroConn or Neuroelectrics will not sell an equipment to a private person. Foc.us device, by the way, was proved to impair the memory [1].

1.Steenbergen, Laura, et al. "“Unfocus” on foc. us: commercial tDCS headset impairs working memory." Experimental brain research (2015): 1-7.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. This reference is very useful. $\endgroup$ – Peter Slattery Jan 22 '16 at 2:14
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In addition to the previous answer: A recent meta-analysis of the 59 transcranial direct current simulation (tDCS) studies in healthy volunteers found no evidence for any benefit of stimulation on cognitive performance 1. There is a possibility that tDCS might have some benefit in specific populations, e.g. for training motor tasks in post-stroke rehabilitation 2. However, even within the scientific community, the question of stimulation parameters that might substantially influence the effectiveness of tDCS are not settled. This includs placement of sensors, duration, frequency, and polarity. Studies also find that there is substantial variability in the response to tDCS between participants, which is purely understood at the moment. The group of Prof. Andrea Antal, University of Göttingen, conducts some detailed research on this 3.

A further concern is safety. Even though it is fairly easy to put a tDCS device together, this is strongly discouraged: There is little evidence for any benefits and little research on possible negative effect of longer-term use. So, please refrain from risking your health. When the science behind tDCS is better understood, it might become more widely available.

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