AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018


Can You Zap Your Brain Back to Health?

Electrifying brain circuits may decrease depressive symptoms and chronic pain, but a USC scientist says we first need to see what the electric current is actually doing

Rather that taking medication, a growing number of people who suffer from chronic pain, epilepsy and drug cravings are zapping their skulls in hopes that a weak electric current will jolt them back to health. 

This brain hacking – “transcranial direct current stimulation” (tDCS) – is used to treat neurological and psychiatric symptoms. A do-it-yourself community has sprouted on Reddit, providing unconventional tips for how to use a weak electric current to treat everything from depression to schizophrenia. People are even using commercial tDCS equipment to improve their gaming ability. But tDCS is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and scientists are split on this efficacy, with some calling it quackery and bad science.

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