Technique Thursday: Deep Brain Stimulation: Electrocuting the brain

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves inserting and implanting electrodes within the brain. The electrodes produce electrical impulses that serve to regulate the brain’s abnormal impulses. These electrode impulses can also serve to modulate neurochemistry. A pacemaker-like device controls the electrode impulses, ensuring that the right frequency is delivered. The device is connected to the electrodes via a wire placed under the skin.

DBS can be used with patients who have motor issues, such as tremors seen in Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Other patients that may be treated with DBS include dystonia patients, those with epilepsy, Tourette’s, and even depression.

It is suspected that DBS not only affects neural site at the vicinity of the electrodes, but also may disrupts abnormal signals that reverberate through multiple brain regions, corrupting the communications between regions. This is known as “circuit training.”

Now, some people have taken on a DIY approach to DSB: they purchase a variable resistor, a current regulator, a circuit board, and a 9-volt battery.Using some basic wires, a simple circuit is built. Alligator clips are connected to the circuit to two sponges soaked in saline, and then strapped with the head. The battery is placed, and a small dial is turned up. Voila! Electric current into the brain.

[Disclaimer: I’m not endorsing this DIY project.]

One guy, a certain Brent, goes through this DIY DBS ritual weekly: 2-3 times per week, he shocks his brain, sometimes for 25 (?!) minutes at a time.

The research behind this DIY approach is rather shaky: the results are modest, and some, inconclusive. Of course, it’s best not to do such a thing to be on the safe side. Wouldn’t want to play around with those neurochemicals and electricity , now, would you? It’s your brain, after all…

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