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Brain Zapping

There appears to be a resurgence of medical studies investigating electrical stimulation of the brain. My last blog post centred around a study which claimed to increase the focus and attention of ADHD sufferers by zapping the cerebellum. In another post, I wrote about a similar set of experiments which used transcranial magnetic stimulation on the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex to generate the pleasure chemical dopamine.

Electromagnetic stimulation has been touted to relieve everything from migraines to depression. In last week’s New Scientist magazine, there was an interesting article claiming that US Defense Agencies are investigating super-charging their soldiers’ concentration spans with ‘e-meditation’. While I applaud their move away from using drugs to ward off emotional and physical fatigue in combat situations, I have to question the long-term implications.

E-meditation is a new craze sweeping through the world of Yoga. While many aspire to the lasting benefits of mindfulness and calming busy thoughts, there are a few who are attempting to by-pass the training by electrically stimulating the brain instead. Patents for specialised headbands have already been filed, pre-empting the new craze of administering electric charges to the front of the skull, without medical supervision.

Let’s stop and think about this, shall we? We are voluntarily applying electrical charges through a delicate organ, that has the consistency of blancmange, to enable us to sit still and concentrate. A network of microscopic nerves, which only function correctly so long as the minuscule gradients of sodium and potassium ions remain in balance. This organ, which takes twenty-odd years to fully develop, and remains in a constant flux of forging new pathways, will be subjected to uncontrolled electrical bursts.

Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to measure the unsettling effects of an over-stimulated brain? Ones that are bombarded with a neural overload of sounds and images from the moment we wake until we switch off devices to sleep. What happens if we increase the threshold for nerves to fire via additional electrical stimulation so that we cannot function without tech attached to our heads? Is this the first step towards Star Trek’s The Borg?

Perhaps a mandatory ‘No Tech’ time for every child would help to alleviate the symptoms of restlessness and low concentration spans. I can think of several adults who would benefit from a tech abstinence too.

Sam Nash is the author of the sci-fi conspiracy thriller, The Aurora Mandate. NOW AVAILABLE. Kindle: or epub: You can find her at or on Twitter @samnashauthor or Alternatively, you can download her free prequel novella series. Kindle: ePub:

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