Better Living Through Electricity

A fascinating article about the new field of transcranial direct current stimulation. Interestingly he experience the author felt was not what sensationalists would fear — an overweening self-confidence — but instead she gained the ability to calmly evaluate and solve an unusual problem (namely target shooting, a task she had never before attempted) without the accompanying chorus of thoughts telling her that she might as well just give up, that she was no good at this kind of thing, and just not an adequate enough person to solve these problems.

Me without self-doubt was a revelation. There was suddenly this incredible silence in my head; I’ve experienced something close to it during 2-hour Iyengar yoga classes, but the fragile peace in my head would be shattered almost the second I set foot outside the calm of the studio. I had certainly never experienced instant zen in the frustrating middle of something I was terrible at.

If you told me tDCS will allow to someone to study twice as fast for the bar exam, I might be a little leery because now I have visions of rich daddies paying for Junior’s thinking cap. Neuroscientists like Roy Hamilton have termed this kind of application “cosmetic neuroscience,” which implies a kind of “first world problem” frivolity.

But now think of a different application–could school-age girls use the zappy cap while studying math to drown out the voices that tell them they can’t do math because they’re girls? How many studies have found a link between invasive stereotypes and poor test performance?

As someone who experiences a great deal of the so-called “imposter syndrome”, all I can say is: where do I sign up?