[Neuro] Brain-Brain Interface with tDCS like stimulation

Grant Taylor grantstaylor at gmail.com
Mon Aug 5 18:14:26 UTC 2013

Hey John, I agree with the majority of your post, but just wanted to make
two comments:

First, in reference to Kevin's original question: from my understanding
(quick credentials: I have a PhD in applied experimental psychology and
have experience with various brain measurement techniques, but have never
actually used tDCS or FUS, so I wouldn't consider myself an expert on these
methods) I would say that focused ultrasound is, in fact, quite similar to
transcranial direct current stimulation. Although the two methods use
different mediums (oscillating mechanical pressure from ultrasound
vs. low-level electrical stimulation from tDCS), they both have the same
impact: generalized excitation or inhibition of some localized brain
region. That is, they are both manipulating the firing threshold of the
neurons within a specific region. You are definitely correct that neither
phenomenon is very well understood in terms of exactly how they cause this
excitation/inhibition, so there are still many questions to be answered,
but from a practical standpoint they can both be used for generally the
same purposes, so I think that makes them pretty similar. From what I can
tell the biggest differences between the two seems to be that tDCS is
easier to implement, but FUS has better spatial resolution (it can be used
to manipulate more specific brain regions than tDCS).

For more information on FUS, see the section titled "Potential mechanisms
behind the observed neuromodulation" in this paper by the same lead author:

Second, it's a bit off-topic, but you mentioned that the source was an "odd
publication", so I just wanted to mention that you are right, but PLOS ONE
is "odd" in a great way. PLOS ONE is an open-access journal, so all of
their published articles are available for free to everyone, but they still
maintain the same level of peer-reviewed scrutiny as other reputable
journals. This journal, and other similar open-access publications, are
leading the fight against the paywalls perpetuated by traditional
publishers, and have the potential to help disseminate scientific findings
to a much broader audience (here's a more detailed
I think this movement is directly in line with the Noisebridge philosophy,
so I wanted to take this opportunity to spread their message.

I definitely agree with your point about this just being an
attention-grabbing study. There's no real benefit in combining these two
technologies together, especially when we still know so little about the
individual components. This is an interesting technical demonstration, not
a scientific development.

Sorry this ended up way longer than I anticipated. If you actually read all
of this, then congratulations! you must have a longer-than-average
attention span.


On Sun, Aug 4, 2013 at 3:08 PM, John Withers <jwithers at reddagger.org> wrote:

> On 08/04/2013 04:00 AM, Kevin Schiesser wrote:
>> Is focused ultrasound similar to transcranial direct current stimulation?
>> See http://www.plosone.org/**article/info:doi/10.1371/**
>> journal.pone.0060410<http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0060410>for info on BBI.
>> __
> Probably not. Neither phenomena is all that well understood (TDCS only
> looks that way until you dig far enough down to get to the "then the magic
> happens" part. We know what it does, but not really why it should do that).
> And this seems kinda an odd publication to me unless I am missing
> something, which is possible.
> Brain wave entrainment is a well understood phenomenon. Unless I am deeply
> missing something here, that's all the trigger is. Look at a strobe in a
> certain frequency range, certain of your brainwaves tend to sync with it.
> This is the same thing that Mitch's flashy glasses do. Hooking an eeg
> trigger to that isn't breaking new ground. And it is enormously limited, it
> is a single channel.
> Ditto stimulating motor movement in mice using ultrasound techniques.
> Putting both of them together to create "BCI" seems like nothing but
> trying to make a sexy headline.
> Although, it would be cool to do in a space just for the fun of it, yeah.
> j
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