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Do-It-Yourself Brain Stimulation Has Scientists Worried

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the a-little-zap-will-do-you dept.

Science 311

Freshly Exhumed writes "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." With studies suggesting that small doses of electricity can: increase your memory, help you learn new tasks, make you better at math, turn you into a sniper in minutes, and most importantly make the ugly seem attractive, we can expect a lot of brain zapping in the next few years.

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311 comments

Republicans should "go for it" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002347)

Trust me, you can't get any stupider...

Re:Republicans should "go for it" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002483)

Republicans should "go for it"... Trust me, you can't get any stupider.

Yeah, because all of them are all alike, just as stupid as can be.

Just like Black people, excuse me, "African Americans" are all alike, and Chinese people are all alike. And Japanese people are just like Chinese people, you know with those slanty eyes and all. And people who like fried chicken - don't you just hate them? They're all alike, every one.

Yeah, way to take the high ground, there. Good thing you aren't playing into the divide and conquer mentality of the ruling class or anything.

Re: Republicans should "go for it" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002585)

That was a very quick escalation from a little joke to playing the racism card.

There must be a record for that.

Re: Republicans should "go for it" (-1, Troll)

craigminah (1885846) | about 10 months ago | (#44002767)

So you think discriminating a political party and stereotyping everyone within it is ok? How is that different from race, sex, etc.? Oh, probably because it follows your political affiliation (e.g. liberal) so you don't mind. Let one group discriminate against another and soon enough it will eventually be discriminating against you.

Re: Republicans should "go for it" (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44002921)

Because you get to choose whether or not you're a member of the party.

I'm not responsible for the actions of other white men, unless I permit their behavior, but I am partially responsible for the behavior of any group I join.

As for discriminating against the GOP, they're main reason for existing is to discriminate against anybody that isn't in their shrinking clique. Sexual minorities, Muslims, the poor, children et al., are groups that they regularly act to marginalize.

Re: Republicans should "go for it" (-1, Offtopic)

dantotheman (2887483) | about 10 months ago | (#44003277)

Because you get to choose whether or not you're a member of the party.

Well put good sir. Well put.

Re: Republicans should "go for it" (-1, Offtopic)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 10 months ago | (#44003415)

And remember. Liberals are never wrong.
Those black people at Tea Party events are hired to be there so that they do not look racist.

Re: Republicans should "go for it" (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 10 months ago | (#44002883)

That was a very quick escalation from a little joke to playing the racism card.

There must be a record for that.

"WHOOSH" in all caps maybe?

Re: Republicans should "go for it" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003805)

"whoosh" in all caps is "WHOOSH". So what is "WHOOSH" in all caps? You should be modded redundant.

Re:Republicans should "go for it" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002837)

Republicans should "go for it"... Trust me, you can't get any stupider.

Yeah, because all of them are all alike ...

The truth lies between your absurd statement and the absurd statement made by the original
poster.

Prejudice is a useful thing. It can prevent things like being mugged, or being hit by a car driven
by a [ insert ethnic group here ] or being ripped off in an online transaction by a [ insert the usual
suspects here ].

A wise man uses the knowledge base he has accumulated during his life when he is dealing
with new situations, and then modifies his perceptions to match what he experiences.

Only a fool expects all people to be wise and wonderful. And you, Mister Anonymous Coward,
are a fool with your attempt at making light of prejudice. Maybe when you get the shit beat
out of you by a pack of [ ] you will see the light and grasp the simple truth that there
are some prejudices for which there indeed IS a factual basis.

Re:Republicans should "go for it" (1, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44002909)

The GOP is an opt in grouping of individuals based upon having similar views. These views include disbelief in climate change and skepticism science in general, so comparing it with the Chinese, Japanese or Blacks doesn't make any meaningful sense. These are not groups that you get to join later on because you like the cultural values.

Re:Republicans should "go for it" (5, Informative)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 10 months ago | (#44003403)

I always wondered how stupid a person would have to be to think that one side of the government loves them more than the other.
Can you please post your IQ?

Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (5, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 10 months ago | (#44002353)

experience an orgasm?

-Luis Wu

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (5, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about 10 months ago | (#44002373)

Thread done in two. Everyone can go home now.

--
BMO

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002417)

The part below your waistline is generally a good place to start.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002445)

Tee hee, "Google" "Electrosluts." Of course it isn't SFW.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (5, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 10 months ago | (#44002451)

I was about to post the same thing. The scene in Niven's The Ringworld Engineers [amazon.com] where Louis Wu is shown to have become a "wirehead", someone who becomes addicted to directly stimulating the pleasure centre of the brain and losing interest in all else in life, was one of the creepiest things I've ever read.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (2)

megabeck42 (45659) | about 10 months ago | (#44002701)

That sounds a lot like Michael Crichton's 1972 novel, "The Terminal Man." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Terminal_Man [wikipedia.org]

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002943)

Indeed, and the scary thing is that there's actually evidence to support the notion that ones neurobiology can cause uncontrollable rage when not treated.

I've personally got a few brain injuries that have caused me trouble over the years. I would strongly advise people to take care of their heads as even a small amount of damage to the wrong place can cause long term problems. And at this stage, there's still a ton of research that needs doing just to understand how the brain works.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002755)

I was about to post the same thing. The scene in Niven's The Ringworld Engineers [amazon.com] where Louis Wu is shown to have become a "wirehead", someone who becomes addicted to directly stimulating the pleasure centre of the brain and losing interest in all else in life, was one of the creepiest things I've ever read.

Doesn't work; human brains are far more complex than rat brains. Researchers actually experimented with similar electrode based stimulation in humans some time ago. While there were marked changes in behavior (the descriptions I read were suggestive of a reduction in inhibition), it was nothing like Niven's description of wireheads.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (1, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#44002895)

All the furry sex was a lot creepier than the wire-head garbage. Those books were terrible.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002979)

Even creepier is the part where this can be done without a wire into the brain, and from at least a few feet away with a small portable device called a "TASP". While as Niven suggests, this might solve many of the problems with drug abuse, and the "wireheads" would mostly not breed, wiping themselves from the gene pool eventually, the whole idea is very creepy indeed! Its bad enough that a few people have died from playing video games to the exclusion of even eating and drinking. I could see many wireheads dying within a few days of having the wire implanted because they forgot to eat and drink!

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003477)

And yet, if we believe the utilitarian "greatest happiness for the most people" principle, we should consider that to be about the most moral thing a person could do.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003595)

Not if the people go extinct early or the population declines too much. There's probably a finite time the human species will exist.

The area under the graph of total happy people vs time could indeed be less with wireheads than without. But you'd also have to factor in how happy etc :).

FWIW I believe there would be evolutionary pressure to not use it to that extent (of neglecting everything else).

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 10 months ago | (#44003681)

This isn't the first time the concept of electro- brain- pleasure-stimulation has turned up here, and I still can't recall the title, author or particulars of a short story I read somewhen back in late '60s, maybe early '70s. "Victims" plugged the something-something into a socket 'twixt back of ear and base of skull; the tech was bootleg of legit-use stuff. The setting was on Earth, circa roughly the turn of century - the date might've not been given, but one scene was at a run-down rooming house, another at a private home and both seemed just a seedy version of the time of writing. Any help for an old man's peripatetic recall gratefully accepted.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (5, Insightful)

AdamWill (604569) | about 10 months ago | (#44002697)

...make you think it's a really good idea to zap vague areas of your brain with electricity based on the hilariously incomplete field of neuroscience?

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44002961)

Precisely. The research is coming along, but unless a person is under medical supervision and has to have this done, I'd strongly recommend against it. And even then, I'd strongly recommend doing a real analysis of where one is and where one needs to be and think about it hard.

Mainstream neurologists still don't consider sudden uncontrollable rage to be a neurological symptom, even though it often times is a sign that there's something going wrong in the brain. Especially if it starts well after one is born. I sincerely hope that I'm wrong about that detail, as that should have been cause for a few brain scans.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#44003053)

...make you think it's a really good idea to zap vague areas of your brain with electricity based on the hilariously incomplete field of neuroscience?

Any part, apparently.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (3, Interesting)

Jeremi (14640) | about 10 months ago | (#44003797)

...make you think it's a really good idea to zap vague areas of your brain with electricity based on the hilariously incomplete field of neuroscience?

Yeah, it's really dumb, but so is sniffing glue, or using meth, or cocaine, or smoking cigarettes, or any of several dozen other unhealthy habits you could name.

There are plenty of people out their who are willing to ignore any amount of long-term consequences in return for a short-term reward.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (4, Funny)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 10 months ago | (#44002731)

experience an orgasm?

With my 'previous' girlfriend? The visual cortex. Man was she ugly.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002771)

Like likes like.

Re:Which part of the brain do you need to zap to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002949)

septal nucleus

we can also expect... (4, Funny)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 10 months ago | (#44002383)

An increase in vegetables in the next few years as well.

Re: we can also expect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002525)

Yeah, just imagine a group of tweakers trying to see if they can incorporate a flux capacitor into it - gaked out tweakers that is. Let the games begin.

Re:we can also expect... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003259)

Good. The USA needs somebody to carry on the legacy of GWB and Osama^wObama.

Re: brain stimulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002405)

I guess people here do a different kind of stimulation, and not just of the brain either, if you know what I mean. ;-)

Open Research... (4, Interesting)

vettemph (540399) | about 10 months ago | (#44002411)

This is great so long as everything is published as they go. Waveforms, Impulse frequency or duration, Pulse train frequency, electrode placements, signal voltage and current. Don't let this get taken over by the industrialists.
    Also, publish your data BEFORE you use the signal. If you die, we need to know what did it. :)

Re:Open Research... (2, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#44002929)

One problem with your idea... everyones brain is completely different. When actual scientists do this they do multiple high resolution MRIs of the patients brain and study them for months before trying anything. Then they apply very tightly controlled current to tiny areas of the brain. What these people are doing is just as likely to turn on the "homicidal rage" part of their brains as it is anything else.

Re:Open Research... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 10 months ago | (#44002987)

And we'll get their results in 20 to 80 years.

This approach has killed the space program.

I see the benefits of caution but exploration is done by bold people who die (madame curie for example and a lot of american pioneers).

Re:Open Research... (4, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 10 months ago | (#44003149)

This approach has killed the space program.

exploration is done by bold people who die

Sir, I politely call your attention to the 30 astronauts and cosmonauts who lost their lives in spaceflight and training, and to whom we owe the space program's continued successes around the globe. These men and women gladly risked their lives to advance science and technology and they are heroes, every one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_space_disasters [wikipedia.org]

Re:Open Research... (3, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 10 months ago | (#44003711)

And the result of that was that we got *so* cautious that we essentially stopped going to space entirely.

I politely call your attention to all the astronauts who trained and will never be able to go to space.

Going to space is dangerous. People will die.

Look at the numbers willing to go to Mars, one way, and die before they would on earth.

Re:Open Research... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44003351)

Sort of, there's already doctors using this sort of information to help people. It's just that we haven't hit the point where implants are safe or effective for many of these conditions.

But, some doctors do use the imaging to inform their decisions about what medications to use and to double check that the brain is responding as intended. It's not a common practice, and probably overkill for most folks, but it does seem to work.

Re:Open Research... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003233)

One problem with your idea... everyones brain is completely different.

No, I don't think "completely different" means what you think it means. Everyone's brains are mostly pretty, although with quite a few small differences. Depending on what you are doing, those small differences can be really important or not important at all.

When actual scientists do this they do multiple high resolution MRIs of the patients brain and study them for months before trying anything.

There are plenty of studies where they only study a particular subject for some number of minutes or a couple hours before moving on to the next one, when they are looking for common patterns.

Re:Open Research... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003643)

Not everyone has a halle berry neuron or if they do it's not in the same spot. look it up.

You go around zapping stuff, you might forget things, you may not know what you forget. And nobody else would know what you might forget either.

Many slashdotters think backups, RAID1, raidz are good ideas. Is data corruption/loss in your brain really less important than in your computer? Yes our brains peak and then decline inevitably but I don't see how zapping it is going to help overall. It might help for certain specific things, but they better be very important.

Re:Open Research... (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44003341)

Sort of, there is a ton of variability, but MRIs are pretty much worthless for this type of work. They'll show you where the neurons are, but they give very little information about how they're actually connected together.

There's stuff like SPECT and fMRIs that will do that. And ultimately, even the highest resolution imaging is still going to be insufficient with regards to implanting things where they belong, due to the density of the brain.

I've been reading up a lot on it lately, and I believe that in the near future there's going to be a lot more of these imaging tests done when people come in for treatment with any sort of complex neurological or psychiatric problems.

Re:Open Research... (3, Interesting)

ridgecritter (934252) | about 10 months ago | (#44003425)

I concur with your caution that peoples' brains differ, so we might expect that YMMV regarding the results of TCDS. I disagree that "When actual scientists do this they do multiple high resolution MRIs...". That's the exception, not the rule.

In my collection of 108 papers on TCDS, use of advanced imaging methods as a study enrollment screener happened in 7 of them. The technology seems (so far, anyway) pretty benign. For example, in one study of 815 TCDS sessions in 100 migraine patients, there were no observed adverse events ("Safety of the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS): evaluation of 815 tDCS sessions in 100 chronic- pain patients"). Not to say that it's free of risk, nor that longer-term adverse effects won't crop up, but for those who stay within the generally used current density limits, etc., there probably isn't a lot to worry about.

I'm much more concerned about people deciding that a 9v battery is just so inconvenient, they'll run it off that 9v wall wart. The one with the failed ground isolation. The really cheap one that fails in a way that puts line voltage on the scalp electrodes just when the user happens to touch a grounded thing. etc. Some think that because they can buy a case and motherboard at Fry's and boot Windows, they're a biomedical EE. These folks may get selected out, or become somewhat dimmer bulbs.

also, you will go blind. (2, Funny)

decora (1710862) | about 10 months ago | (#44002419)

not to mention growing hairy palms.

Re:also, you will go blind. (2)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 10 months ago | (#44002537)

Oh, so you're a titch more hirsute. That's an acceptable tradeoff for becoming a multi-tasking number crunching crack shot with perfect pitch who doesn't forget anything. And let's throw in some beer goggles while we're at it.

How do you go blind and become a crack shot, anyway?

Sounds like Edmonton, alright. (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about 10 months ago | (#44002421)

Next step for an Edmontonian would generally be, "Is there a way I can program myself to only see white people?"

Re:Sounds like Edmonton, alright. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 10 months ago | (#44002975)

Yes, program yourself to live in rural Wisconsin, I can guarantee you won't see any non-white people for months on end.

Can I have some laser eye surgery with that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002449)

Oh boy, I can hardly wait for what's coming. Fantastic investing opportunity. Long drugs to fix the problems, and the extended care industry. Go to it boys. With any luck, we'll have more patients entering those homes just when the death of baby boomer Alzheimer's patients causes business to slack off.

The only question I have is: (3, Interesting)

donaggie03 (769758) | about 10 months ago | (#44002455)

Where can I get one??

Re:The only question I have is: (2)

craigminah (1885846) | about 10 months ago | (#44002781)

Gimme a few days and I'll solder one together for you in my basement out of some old kitchen appliances. I guarantee it won't turn you into a vegetable and if it does, good luck finding me without slipping in all your drool.

Here (3, Informative)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 10 months ago | (#44002843)

Here [mindalive.com] is the company referenced in the article.

About $200 - $300, depending on the product and functionality. And best of all - it's completely [medical device] unregulated!

Re:The only question I have is: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002953)

If you've ever taken a high-school level electronics course, you have the skills/knowledge necessary to make such a device. Search for constant current generators. Most devices are based upon the LM334; however, you can also use a transistor to make a constant current generator.

Re:The only question I have is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003273)

Making a constant current source is pretty easy. Making a constant current source that can't turn into something more dangerous due to a specific failure mode of one of the components can sometimes require more forethought, especially depending on what power source is feeding the current source.

Re:The only question I have is: (1)

steam_cannon (1881500) | about 10 months ago | (#44003161)

Also these are very easy to make. Here are some links and notes for informational purposes only. In it's most basic form wires with cloth dipped in salt water connected to a battery. More refined DIY designs include an electrical meter. http://gizmodo.com/5882754/how-to-electrify-your-brain-to-be-smarter-with-a-9+volt-battery [gizmodo.com] http://www.technologyreview.com/view/427177/diy-kit-overclocks-your-brain-with-direct-current/ [technologyreview.com] Most of the components: - A battery, I've seen designs using 9 volts and I know of some designs that use 6 volts. - Some cut off pieces cotton as cotton can be less drippy then sponge. - salt shaker + water - Wires, regular radioshack UL-Recognized RED Hookup Wire 22AWG (though thicker electrical wire will work too). Strip off the ends to contact the cloth. - Duct-tape to hold the cloth to the wires. - Optional, an electrical meter to get the current in the range you want. - Optional, you can modulate the amps though battery selection, resistors, salt water resistor or just moderating the salt water concentrations. - Possible bonus, the salt water connection is imperfect and provides a crackly connection as in slight random current pulses without special circuitry. Rubbing the contact wire on the battery terminal will also create staticy pulses somewhat similar to what some of the more complex devices produce. - Common sense, take it off if it's burning or injuring your skin.

Zap your brain with beer instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002471)

Zap your brain with beer instead to improve your singing.

This subject Zapped his brain with 2 beers mid song. Notice the results.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACgJhE2L7Ms

Even if your singing doesn't improve, it is definitely more fun to sing this way.

Re:Zap your brain with beer instead (1)

jurco (2851147) | about 10 months ago | (#44002891)

Zap your brain with beer instead...

Definitely helps with the "make the ugly seem attractive" bit.

Placebo effect? (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 10 months ago | (#44002481)

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.

How the hell would he know if it didn't? Can we get testimonials of his friends? Otherwise, I'm claiming placebo effect.

Re:Placebo effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002617)

Not to mention "I did it, then practiced a bunch, and I got better"

I have this great diet pill. I take it, then work out for 4 hours, and I lost weight ....

Re:Placebo effect? (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about 10 months ago | (#44003777)

Same here. Unless it's some sort of TMS which actually creates electrical currents inside the brain through and electromagnetic field I just don't see non invasive electrical stimulation happening. If you count scalp and skull and everything are exists between them I just don't any significant amount of electricity passing through the brain(unless you want to burn your hair).

Mental masturbation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002497)

The great thing is, no more one-handed typing!

Wireheads? (2)

steveha (103154) | about 10 months ago | (#44002513)

It is by now an old trope in science fiction: the idea that people will have electrodes installed to directly stimulate the pleasure center of their brains. It's kind of a frightening idea: on the one hand, it would be a "high" that shouldn't damage you, but on the other hand it is likely to be so intensely pleasurable that it's fiendishly addictive. Larry Niven wrote stories where "wireheads" routinely would starve to death, feeling such intense pleasure that they forgot to do anything else including eat. He furthermore imagined that the "dealers" who sold wirehead gear had an "induction" helmet that could provide a taste of the experience without implanting the electrodes, and his protagonist narrator commented that this really wasn't fair.

This seems like a possible technology, and possible things tend to happen eventually. But I haven't heard of it happening in the real world yet. I'm wondering if it's coming.

Scientists HATE Him! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002557)

Click here to find out how this 47-year-old local patriot discovered one "weird" old trick to stimulate the brain and end slavery to Obama's mind control.

No thanks (1)

arielCo (995647) | about 10 months ago | (#44002569)

It's hard enough to keep those damn mind control waves away from my skull, and they want me to trust some device made by a megacorp hooked up to my *brain*? Riiight. Listen: you keep your military-industrial-complex-approved reptilian gizmo and I'll "do" my own noggin' with the open-sauce tech from cousin Moe whom I trust. For now.

accessible and timely news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002665)

U need 15 month old article from a paysite?

http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/2012/03/zap-your-brain-into-zone-fast-track-to.html

The old is new again (1)

mangamuscle (706696) | about 10 months ago | (#44002675)

It was http://news.cnet.com/The-Compex-Sport-Shock-therapy-for-workout-warriors/2100-1041_3-6226516.html [cnet.com]all the rage forty years ago, albeit the zapping was not done in the brain directly, but Bruce Lee did it quite frequently.

Re:The old is new again (3, Interesting)

dead_user (1989356) | about 10 months ago | (#44003185)

And they really work, too. I have one. When I tore my rotator cuff in college, I had a choice of surgery and maybe getting back 85% of my movement back, or trying a muscle stimulator, or TENS machine. I used it on the torn shoulder set well below the pain threshold for a few weeks and then started slowly working it up. After a few months I was already past 85% movement and still improving. Now, an unmentionable number of years later, I'm playing racketball again with 100% range of motion. For six hundred dollars. And no pain.

That being said, no amount of money would get me to stick it anywhere near my head. Shudder. The machine I got is capable of making your muscles rip themselves apart. If you overestimate when you increase the power, you effectively taze yourself. The only good thing is you know there's a rest period in a few seconds so you can stop it. It hurts. A LOT. I know. ;)

Beer (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 10 months ago | (#44002677)

>> increase your memory, help you learn new tasks, make you better at math, turn you into a sniper in minutes, and most importantly make the ugly seem attractive

So basically, it's beer.

Well, that is bad news for the US DOD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002775)

They have started work on all sorts of electric weapons. Now, we are going to create super villins.

I remember (5, Interesting)

Cosgrach (1737088) | about 10 months ago | (#44002873)

I worked for a company the built medical diagnostic (EEG & ECG) and treatment (TENS) equipment. We had a few prototype stimulation units that one salesman had the bright idea of connecting up to his brain. It's output was really limited (on the order of a few micro amps) using electrodes attached to his ear-lobes. Turn it on with a low frequency sine wave (1 - 2 Hz) and watch the fun. It was interesting to watch his eyes scan back and forth like a Cylon. The sign wave was super-imposed on the normal impulses, so he could still direct his eyes, but really funny if he was trying to keep his eyes focused on one thing.

I have no doubt that he was doing damage along the way (but hell, he was only a salesman). He claimed that it made him feel high. The stupid bastard was even driving his car with the thing hooked up.

However, you can have all manor of fun with a good TENS unit.

Wow.

Darwinism At Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44002971)

Those who are are good at it will get better, those who aren't we won't be concerned with long.

Acupuncture for the XXI century (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#44003045)

At least is a bit more targetted than doing it in the feets. It have risks, but doing it right could have its potential. Regarding the people that want to try it as the new fad without knowing what they are doing, shouldnt be much worse than getting addicted to Krokodil.

Hordes of Asian parents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003065)

... are anxiously waiting to put their hands on such devices to give a daily zap on their kids' brains so they would have an egde over other kids!

The Asian market is completely cornered.

Scientists SHOULD be worried. (0)

Rick in China (2934527) | about 10 months ago | (#44003123)

They think they're super smart, beyond that of the average guitar player. What if brain zapping turns everyone into super geniuses? Suddenly scientists will have very few job prospects, everyone can be a scientist. THAT's the real reason they're worried. Get zappin'!

Brain stim versus nudie scan (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 10 months ago | (#44003135)

The amount of stimulation is over two orders of magnitude [wikipedia.org] lower than the amount needed to cause damage, as interpolated from studies in rats. This has scientists and medical professionals worried about potential dangers, as the effects of low-level stimulation have not been adequately studied.

Backscatter X-ray machines [wikipedia.org] are estimated to cause 1 death by cancer every 200 million scans. The government has repeatedly assured us that these are safe, and were deployed with no regulation, no testing, and no quality control (as, for example, the dose-per-scan claims by the manufacturer).

It's getting to the point where crowd-sourced information is more accurate than the experts.

Imagine a world of scientific research guided by crowd-sourced anecdotal evidence: after masses of people try something [slashdot.org] and report positive effects, the research community gets onboard and tests the evidence.

If the medical community doesn't clean up its act [wsj.com], they'll find themselves marginalized into obscurity. Like buggy-whip manufacturers or the MPAA/RIAA, when you stand in the way of progress, progress will leave you behind.

I know they must be nervous (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | about 10 months ago | (#44003153)

I know that these scientists are nervous now that they can make women find them attractive by zapping their brains, so my advise to them is to play it cool. If they blow it with one girl, they can always just zap another to start all over again.

The Mind Snatchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003305)

Niven was probably inspired by this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Happiness_Cage

If you get a chance to watch this, it's really intense and Christopher Walken gives a great performance.

It might be relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003331)

It might be relevant that he's trying to sell something: www.mindalive.com

What could go wrong? (1)

Livius (318358) | about 10 months ago | (#44003371)

I mean, people altering their brains with drugs has never had any adverse medical or legal consequences, right?

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

aminorex (141494) | about 10 months ago | (#44003619)

if people were allowed to control their own minds, it would be anarchy - dogs and cats living together...

Shades of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003479)

Dr. Emilio Lizardo.

Everything that helps natural selection. (2)

mha (1305) | about 10 months ago | (#44003549)

Medicine helped AGAINST natural selection (a little bit - mostly through helping babies survive, no need to overvalue its contribution though since its relevant mostly during lower ages (though not exclusively due to indirect effects when grandparents help raise children).

Such movements may help increasing natural selection.

So I'm all for it, since I'll sit at the sidelines at let other people be the lab rats to find the 0.0001% of stuff that actually works and is useful (longterm).

stimulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44003611)

article reminds me of shock therapy in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

There's nothing like it.. (1)

SinisterRainbow (2572075) | about 10 months ago | (#44003713)

Nothing like taking the most complex misunderstood piece of machinery and just throwing wattage up in there willy-nilly! Next thing i'll try is stabbing myself to hopefully become more pain resistant. Then eat some metal because I hear iron's good for you.
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