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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cadaver study casts doubts on how zapping brain may boost mood, relieve pain

By Emily Underwood
Originally posted April 20, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Buzsáki expects a living person’s skin would shunt even more current away from the brain because it is better hydrated than a cadaver’s scalp. He agrees, however, that low levels of stimulation may have subtle effects on the brain that fall short of triggering neurons to fire. Electrical stimulation might also affect glia, brain cells that provide neurons with nutrients, oxygen, and protection from pathogens, and also can influence the brain’s electrical activity. “Further questions should be asked” about whether 1- to 2-milliamp currents affect those cells, he says.

Buzsáki, who still hopes to use such techniques to enhance memory, is more restrained than some critics. The tDCS field is “a sea of bullshit and bad science—and I say that as someone who has contributed some of the papers that have put gas in the tDCS tank,” says neuroscientist Vincent Walsh of University College London. “It really needs to be put under scrutiny like this.”

The article is here.

Editor's note:

This article represents the importance of science in the treatment of human suffering. No one wants sham interventions.

However, the stimulation interventions may work, and work effectively, in light of other models of how the brain functions. The brain creates an electromagnetic field that moves beyond the skull.  If the cadaver's brain is shut off, this finding may be irrelevant as the stimulation affects the field that moves beyond the skull.  In other words, how these stimulation procedures influence the electromagnetic field of the brain may be a better model to explain improvement.

Therefore, using dead people to nullify what happens in living people may not be the best standard to evaluate a procedure when researching brain activity.  It is a step to consider and may help develop a better working model of what actually happens with TMS.

By the way, scientists are not exactly certain how lithium or antidepressants work, either.