Direct-to-consumer transcranial direct-current stimulation device

A few months ago, our blog post discussed a possibility of direct-to-consumer neurotech devices reaching the market in a near future. Among available brain stimulation techniques, transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) is a fairly simple non-invasive method for cortical stimulation. A recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of New Mexico, seems to support the cognitive-enhancing effect of the technique. Learning and performance in a shooting video game was increased two-fold following 30-min tDCS as compared to control, even after one-hour delay. Other studies found beneficial tDCS effects on working and visual memory. Capitalizing on the enthusiasm generated by these studies, the website GoFlow is planning to offer a DIY kit for tDCS with a price tag of $99! Understandably, the kit is very bare-bone, and includes only a battery, a few scalp electrodes, resistor, and a potentiometer.  I would venture to guess that the kit would attract avid brain-hacking enthusiasts and perhaps some students desperately trying to memorize the material before the exam. For the rest of us, let’s wait for a more mature product to hit the shelves.

22 thoughts on “Direct-to-consumer transcranial direct-current stimulation device”

  1. is there any damaging effect to skin when using currency too frequently on it?
    I think there should be some.

    1. In short, the skin damage depends on: 1) the surface area of scalp electrodes, 2) conductivity of the electrode-skin interface (saline, conductive paste or gel), 3) electrode polarity (cathodic vs. anodic), 4) electrode material (Ag, AgCl, conductive rubber) and 5) applied current amplitude and duration. Some of the early symptoms of skin damage are itching (pruritus) and redness (erythema). For detailed characterization of skin responses to tDCS, you can have a look a at this study by Bikson lab.

      1. Thank you very much, will learn it.
        Again, it makes one think that advance (not test) usage of technology is still going to be purely invasive and hard to implement; the future has not come.

        1. what?
          for $99 you can get a device that DOUBLES your performance by using current on the OUTSIDE of your head, and you say the future has not come because it could make you itchy if you over use it…

          come on…

  2. Do you think that the $99 GoFlow version will function adequately? What improvements do you foresee that justify the wait? I have seen other models for around $600 would they be any better in your opinion (I believe you can increase or decrease the energy flow with them)? Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. i’m interested in the same answer leslie is looking for… how exactly does tDCS differ from a tens unit? thank you.

      1. Generally a TENS unit provides a pulsed current source, hence an alternating current, while the TDCS generally supplies a direct current.

        Also some TENS units will use a higher voltage at the electrode than the battery voltage; hence if there is a bad connection between electrode/head interface (i.e. higher resistance), the higher TENS voltage can cause a more serious burn (greater power dissipation at the skin).

  3. The tDCS device is relatively simple. 6 years ago it was anticipated that a stimulator could be produced for less than $100. Today a medical stimulator costs $350. tDCS is safe and without side effects, because protocols are rigidly adhered to. Home use of tDCS is available. tDCS provides effective treatment for treatment-resistant depression, migraine, fibromyalgia and complex regional pain. tDCS memory studies are still at a preliminary stage and learning enhancement is not yet an indicated use. Home use of tDCS requires adequate training and appropriate supervision to be effective and safe.

    1. So whom I have to ask to supervise me during use and us it possible to order it to the middle east countries

  4. I purchased a device from for $165.00 and it works great. I can adjust the Electrodes freely. It is a kit that has a circuit board and took me about 15-20 minutes to put together.

    When I tried it. You could feel the current and getting into the zone with it. I use it to learn by reading while using it. So far so good.

    1. Dave, I just received the same kit. Have it assembled. How do I know where to put the electrodes to specifically increase memory? Please let me know. I think proper placement is the key here.

      1. This is the most important part that people seem to keep forgetting. Without your own brain scan you cannot adequately locate the correct area of the brain which you need to stimulate. Learning different skills, physical versus mental, music versus language or math, different portions of the brain will be highlighted during this learning and without the before and after compassion you could be highlighting the incorrect area of the brain with electricity. Perhaps not harmful in the short term but no way nearly as effective as a complete study, with MRI scans, and scientists to decode the scans and interpret as locations for the electrodes.

  5. Dave S. – how often do you use the device? Is is difficult to find the part of the brain that you are targeting for placement of electrodes? Do you notice a real difference? Thanks. W

  6. It appears that people running are con artists.
    I have ordered my kit in November 2012 and received nothing for my money.
    I e-mailed them, called and even talked to some guys. They gave me excuses. Nothing else.

    Do not send them money!

  7. Kann mir einer sagen ob man bei bestellen kann
    und ob man die Ware auch bekommt..mfg

  8. it’s not surprise because simply, nowdays technology evolves more and more and people adapt in that progressively.

    But i’m not sure that this technic attracts many people. Why, because it’s not practice.

    So good luck

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