Why DIY Brain Stimulation Is a Really Dumb IdeaS

There is a lot of evidence that suggests direct current brain stimulation can improve cognition and motor function. But should you trust a $99 DIY brain stimulation kit? No, of course you shouldn't.

While it might be tempting to overclock your brain—who doesn't want an instant boost in intelligence and coordination?—a new $99 DIY kit from GoFlow comprising a battery, some electrodes and a whole lot of stupid from the user is a recipe for disaster.

Firstly, while direct current brain stimulation has undergone scientific and military testing, its long term effects are unknown. In the short term it does bring improvements, but there's no way of knowing what the extra currents are going to do to your brain in the long run.

Second, if you mess up and for whatever reason mange to shoot a large current through your head, that is a bad and dangerous thing. You only have one brain, and destroying your neurons by pumping too much electricity through them could leave you permanently damaged—or even dead.

When done correctly, by someone who knows what they're doing, direct current brain stimulation is a good idea—in fact, it's currently used by physicians to treat chronic pain. Done by you, at home, without training, it's a dumb idea. Don't do it. [Technology Review; Image: Shutterstock]