Dr Nick Davis, Lecturer at Swansea University’s Department of Psychology and brain stimulation expert has appeared on Radio 4 documentary, Out of the Ordinary.
The programme, which aired earlier today (Monday 2nd February), met people who were “zapping” their brains with DIY electrical devices, lasers and electromagnets in the hope that it would make them learn faster, dream better, and even have spiritual experiences.
Dr Davis said: “We in Swansea University's Department of Psychology use technology called tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation, which is sometimes called “non-invasive brain stimulation”) to alter signals in the brain.
“We do this so we can understand how the brain processes information in different tasks, and in some cases we have been able to improve brain function using tDCS.
“tDCS is a fairly cheap technology as it really just consists of a battery and a little circuit to control the current.
“The documentary is about people who use tDCS devices that they build themselves. People are doing this with relatively little idea of the safety issues involved, and so may be putting themselves at risk of an overdose.
“In addition, it is not really clear what the wider ethical issues are in using brain stimulation. For example, if I use tDCS to help me to learn some facts for an exam, is that cheating?”
Since working at Swansea University, Dr Davis has published a number of papers about the safety and ethics of brain stimulation. These include “Non-invasive” brain stimulation is not non-invasive and Transcranial stimulation of the developing brain: a plea for extreme caution, a paper arguing that the poorly-understood safety issues mean we should be very cautious in using tDCS with people under the age of 18.
You can listen again to the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b050zpwt
- Monday 2 February 2015 16.29 GMT
- Monday 15 July 2019 14.14 BST
- Swansea University