Startup to offer DIY brain overclocking kit


— 11:58 AM on March 12, 2012

Thinking a little slowly this Monday? Why not overclock your brain? MIT's Technology Review blog has the goods on GoFlow, a startup attempting to improve brain performance with a small dose of electricity. Technically, the approach is called transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. Rather than turning up the clock speed of one's brain, small amounts of current are applied to the scalp. The technique has been proven to work, and the GoFlow website points to articles at Nature, Scientific American, New Scientist, and The New York Times detailing studies that show tDCS improving motor function, memory, focus, and one's ability to learn.

Although tDCS machines do exist, GoFlow says they're too expensive and often require a prescription. Its solution: a $99 DIY kit you can build yourself. Still in prototype form, the kit will come with everything required to pump a little extra current through your gray matter, including the 9V battery that supplies the juice.

GoFlow's website and accompanying promo video look like they were funded out of a student's Ramen budget, so it's hard to know whether to take the startup seriously. While tDCS appears to have practical applications, being able to build your own brain-stimulating device for $100 sounds too good to be true—and perhaps a little dangerous. Nevertheless, the potential to tweak one's learning curve with a bit of electricity may be too tempting for some folks to pass up.

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