Neurostimulation: Bright sparks

Lincoln walks into the neurohacker meeting I am attending in a garage in San Francisco. He takes off his flat-brimmed baseball cap, exposing two small, red burns on the side of his face. The day before, he tried a brain-stimulation method called transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) for the first time. “It was pretty intense,” he says. Lincoln had one electrode on his right temple, and another at the bottom of his left deltoid. When turned on, 2.5 milliamps of current flowed into his brain, through his medial prefrontal cortex, down to his shoulder. At least, that’s what this set-up was intended to do, he says. The idea was that the stimulation would help Lincoln, a software programmer who has meditated regularly for several years, to achieve a mystic state. That…

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