Startup to offer DIY brain overclocking kit

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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    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Overclocked my brain just now. Used pure, Italian-branded coffee beans for it along with our Delonghi coffee machine. No sugar, no creamer, no flavorings. Just pure coffee for healthy overclocks. It could raise my blood uric acid levels but at least there’s no risk of dropping dead here.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    This is probably going to make it big in professional gaming circuits, along with ADD medication, caffeine, and other performance enhancing drugs of that nature. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of side effects it has.

    • alternety
    • 8 years ago

    Actually there seems to be good science behind this. Oddly only two days ago I was researching this.

    $100 is probably crazy pricing. High; not low. That schematic on their site is the same on I saw on a thread for DIY. The electronics at that level are probably less than a couple of bucks. And you can fabricate the electrodes pretty cheaply. Some of the posts recommended a salt water solution (I forget the concentration, but high causes irritation – to the skin and from your mother for emptying the salt shaker) rather than the EEG/EKG electrodes readily available. I would research that further before building one. The DIY literature seems to use either one or two 9V batteries.

    I did not do an extensive search. The area that would most benefit from some solid data would be a listing of the points the electrodes need to be attached to stimulate the selected brain area. From reading some “real” info, that is necessary.

    In terms of the device, it would be simple to provide continuous current adjustment with a pot + a limiting resistor where the single resistor is connected. Multiple resistors and a switch or jumpers would generate fixed increments. I would be concerned about there being no fail-safe in the simplistic circuit.

    There also needs to be a means of monitoring current. The effect is current dependent. Variation in skin resistance from different people and different conditions for individuals will affect the source and destination voltage necessary to create a constant current source.A particular instance of use can have skin characteristics that make it impossible for a 9V source to generate the proper current. And if you can’t measure the current you will not know.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    The problem with this is PROBABLY not that it’s not safe. The problem is that just as with everything, if you can do a little and get a little, someone’ll think, “Hai, if it’s great at low voltages, it must be AWESOMETASTIC at HIGH VOLTAGE!” (Warning: Use of the word awesometastic kills puppies in real time. Awesometastic. Awesometastic.)

    Then when they fry their brain and they’re twitching, shaking, and/or having sexual dysfunction, they’ll sue the people behind this for “reckless endangerment.” Etc.

    I’m sure it probably works a little, but enough to strap batteries to our heads? I’d need to read more science on it.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    I’m skeptical about this, and I’m sure anyone would be, especially considering the funding behind it. If you fry your brain you can’t just go out and grab another one, like you could with a fried processor. Just grab a cup of coffee, that should perk your brain up, or at least it does for many folks.

    • Captain Ned
    • 8 years ago

    Louis Wu wants his droud.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, subtle Niven reference!

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, nice. And having not read a Louis Wu story in almost 20 years, I’m amazed I caught it (and could remember what a droud was).

          • willmore
          • 8 years ago

          Damn, we’re old.

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    What they don’t tell you is that you have to strap on a soup pot of LN2 to your head for maximum performance.

    • ish718
    • 8 years ago

    Long term side effects= Brain damage

    • gmskking
    • 8 years ago

    Just smoke some weed instead.

      • axeman
      • 8 years ago

      brain on weed believes it is functioning better.
      it isn’t.

        • gmskking
        • 8 years ago

        It all boils down to confidence anyway.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 8 years ago

        [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J10w3FuCwfQ[/url<] I disagree. “See I think drugs have done some good things for us, i really do, and if you don’t believe drugs have done some good things for us, do me a favor, go home tonight and take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn ‘em. Because you know what, all those musicians who made all that great music that has enhanced your lives throughout the years, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrreal fucking high on drugs.”

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    So jokes aside, who is gonna really try it and tell us about it in a forum thread? Now seriously, anyone?

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 8 years ago

      Gimme $100 and I’ll pretend to try it.

    • halbhh2
    • 8 years ago

    “…tweak one’s learning curve with a bit of electricity…”

    Why stop at a bit?

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      I want what they had in The Matrix. Knowing how to fly a helicopter would be pretty cool

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        Woah…

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      Feel free to play lab rat and let us know how it works out (if you’re still capable of typing).

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 8 years ago

    No hope for me… corrupt BIOS

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      it’s a uefi world now brother.

        • stupido
        • 8 years ago

        unless he is on a gigabyte…

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    Pffffttt… Overclocking my CPU to 4 GHz won’t accomplish squat when my memory is 30% gone, 30% faulty and rest only runs at about 150 MHz.

    And no, with 3 kids, I don’t have any cache.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      You forgot to mention that now days everything is a floppy.

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        At least it’s an 8″ floppy 🙂 You still rockin’ with that 3.5″ drive?

      • kfleszar
      • 8 years ago

      I am sure it overclocks your memory, too.

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]my memory is 30% gone, 30% faulty and rest only runs at about 150 MHz.[/quote<] Most memory products come with a lifetime warranty. Just RMA it.

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, but you have to return it to the factory…. I’m already a little too keenly aware that’s going to happen at some point anyway.

    • clone
    • 8 years ago

    listening to the radio on my way to work and some guy is talking about how he’d only let his kids sleep 3 hours a night so they would have more time to learn every day, he was serious and defended the actions at length demanding any who criticized to offer up a reason he felt was valid for him not to do it.

    I see the same jackass forcing his babies to wear this device after he’s found a way to increase the voltage from birth while forcing them to watch baby Einstein until old enough to have information force fed into their brains as quickly as possible….. surprised if they don’t fry before the age of 21 but hey so long as they manage something insiginificant during that time that gets them noticed because then he’ll get his 15 minutes of fame which will make it all worthwhile.

    it’s all about competition & perceived control over our surroundings, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I see little to any benefit in the technology and find it tragic that it’s allowed to be sold with or without a prescription.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]I see little to any benefit in the technology and find it tragic that it's allowed to be sold with or without a prescription.[/quote<] If you haven't read those articles, I'm not sure you're qualified to make that assessment. Moreover, they sell stuff way more dangerous than that without prescription. Like vodka.

        • Meadows
        • 8 years ago

        Wow, I found a comment from you that I can honestly thumb up without thinking about it much.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          Really?! Where is it?

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      Just what we need – 9V battery narcs!

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    Wait isn’t this what they used to do to small girls in the 20s and 30s that were thought to have issues?

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    Personally I have just been dunking my head in a bucket of water then headbutting a wall socket. The bucket only cost me 75 cents.

    • CuttinHobo
    • 8 years ago

    Let’s hope GoFlow’s yields will be better than GloFo’s. 😉

      • JMccovery
      • 8 years ago

      I was wondering if someone had the same idea as I did… I’m shocked and amazed that no one else found this funny.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    My wife would tell you this wouldn’t work on me. Skull is too thick.

    • Chun¢
    • 8 years ago

    I’m gonna just get a water cooling kit, and to hell with the FSB.

      • JohnC
      • 8 years ago

      Liquid Nitrogen might work even better 😉

    • Sargent Duck
    • 8 years ago

    *psssst, c’mon over here. I have some magic beans I want to sell you”

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Magic beans are what I use to overclock my brain already. But they’re roasted, ground, and have high-pressure steam passed through them.

      • crabjokeman
      • 8 years ago

      Morning glory seeds?

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 8 years ago

    Heh, I’ll need mine with overvolting options please…

      • Forge
      • 8 years ago

      Options? Just use a nice 12V lantern battery instead of that weedy little 9V.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        18V Lithium Ion battery for me, thx

      • pragma
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah! Just think of all the Darwin Award opportunities.

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