This week on TechKnow we meet Erica Muxlow and Jeff Vier who belong to a growing "brain-hacking" movement assembling and using devices for a DIY version of therapy known as transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS).
TDCS is a controversial treatment that works by placing electrodes on the head to send small electrical jolts to the brain.
Researchers and proponents of TDCS say the therapy has a wide range of applications: it can make you smarter, cure disorders like depression, help treat brain injuries and neurological conditions.
TDCS is being tested across labs in the US on people of all ages and as one scientist tells us, it’s no "snake oil"; its effects depend on where on the head the electrodes are placed and what other therapy it's combined with.
We speak to Erica, who has worked as a software developer, and has struggled to fully recover from the head injury that she sustained after a motorcycle accident.
She decided to try out TDCS to improve her learning and memory.
Erica's partner Jeff found instructions online for assembling a TDCS device as well as all the parts he needed. Spending a total of $60, Jeff built a device for Erica, which she now uses every day.
Others who want to try out the treatment, which is still a way off from FDA approval, are building their own devices at home.
We speak to scientists and researchers who are testing TDCS at Burke Medical Research Institute and at a pediatric hospital, and meet other patients, including an elderly man who had a stroke and young girl with cerebral palsy.
We see how testing in controlled lab environments is being carried out and hear from medical researchers and Jeff and Erica about the ethical implications of their very different approaches.
Also in this episode:
Could your selfie tell you how old you are? Or more interesting - at what age you’ll die?
"We do know that people who look younger for their age tend to live longer," says S. Jay Olshansky, an aging expert at the University of Illinois in Chicago and the co-creator of "Face My Age."
The TechKnow team tries out the "Face My Age" website, which uses facial recognition software and a questionnaire to estimate an individual’s "face" age - not their actual age - and their life expectancy.
Source: Al Jazeera