Navigation Links
What is being said in the media and academic literature about neurostimulation?

Over the past several decades, neurostimulation techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have gradually gained favour in the public eye. In a new report, published yesterday in the prestigious scientific journal Neuron, IRCM ethics experts raise important questions about the rising tide of tDCS coverage in the media, while regulatory action is lacking and ethical issues need to be addressed.

TDCS is a non-invasive form of neurostimulation, in which constant, low current is delivered directly to areas of the brain using small electrodes. Originally developed to help patients with brain injuries such as strokes, tDCS is now also used to enhance language and mathematical ability, attention span, problem solving, memory, coordination, and even gaming skills. Recently, states the report, tDCS has caused excitement in the lay public and academia as a ''portable, painless, inexpensive and safe'' therapeutic and enhancement device.

"Despite these claims, the effects of tDCS are hard to predict," explains Eric Racine, PhD, Director of the Neuroethics research unit at the IRCM who supervised the research project. "The safety and efficacy of tDCS have only been demonstrated in controlled laboratory settings and, without supervision, the use of tDCS for enhancement might cause serious adverse effects such as temporary respiratory paralysis."

The report shows the amount of publicly-available information on tDCS has increased dramatically in recent years, both in academic literature and print media articles. IRCM researchers analyzed the available information and found a considerable mismatch in tone and focus between academic and print media articles.

While academic articles focused on therapeutic and investigative uses of tDCS, discussions in print media articles mainly concentrated on potential enhancement uses, as well as therapeutic applications. In addition, media discussions have been optimistic, with little information concerning ethical issues, therapeutic limitations, or side effects that could result from widespread use, whereas academic articles usually involved a more balanced discourse.

"We encountered strong and potentially misleading statements about the real-world effects and applications of tDCS in print media headlines," says Veljko Dubljevic, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the IRCM's Neuroethics research unit and first author of the report. "In our entire sample of media articles, only 3.5 per cent advised caution or mentioned the possibility of adverse effects."

Given the nature of tDCS and the lack of oversight governing its use, the report explains that academic and print media discourse could shape the public's risk-benefit perceptions, impact the uptake of this technology, and, consequently, lead to negative implications for ethical and regulatory oversight.

"With the rapid evolution of tDCS in the public domain and in academia, we recommend three areas of action to tackle the social, ethical and policy implications," adds Dr. Dubljevic. "First, to curtail misunderstandings about tDCS, professional societies, researchers and government agencies should work toward increasing neuroscientific literacy by providing objective neutral data to the media and the public. Second, tDCS devices, as well as their marketing and manufacturing standards, need to be monitored and regulated. Training and licensing procedures should also be considered. Finally, we believe that physicians and other clinicians should become actively engaged in the discussion about ethical, clinical and policy aspects of tDCS."

"The current regulatory gap means that tDCS is readily available as a service, product, or even a homemade device, in many countries without any guidance being provided by policy makers," concludes Dr. Racine. "A response to the policy and regulatory aspects of tDCS is urgently needed."


Contact: Julie Langelier
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal

Related medicine news :

1. Being Sardinian puts a smile on the face of the elderly
2. Being born 4-6 weeks premature can affect brain structure, function
3. Nightmares may signal a child is being bullied
4. False-positive mammogram anxiety has limited impact on womens well-being
5. Altruistic acts more common in states with high well-being
6. Patients receiving ADT should be counseled to improve mental and emotional well-being
7. Acting U.S. Surgeon General “Gets Real” with High School and College Students About Pressing Health Concerns and the Role of Humor in Wellbeing, on
8. Body Systems Design™ Announces January “A Taste of Well-Being” Course
9. Da Vinci Robot Lawsuits Being Investigated by Bernstein Liebhard LLP, as New Study Raises More Questions About Purported Advantages of Robotic Surgery
10. Study: Majority of epilepsy surgery patients enjoy improvement in their physical and social well-being
11. Almost Nuts! Now Being Distributed by L&L Foods
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. Prone to ... , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. “If there ... my other children and say he was going to kill them. If we were ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. announced that 20 Florida attorneys ... peers for this recognition are considered among the top 2 percent of lawyers practicing ... members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: Miami Shareholders Mark D. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® of San ... Society and the Road To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to and from ... adults to ensure the highest quality of life and ongoing independence. Getting to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their pencils and honing their writing skills ... patients and their families pay tribute to a genetic counselor by nominating him or ... Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. , In April, Genome magazine ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... proud to recognize Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and ... women in the world, and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Arkis BioSciences, a ... invasive and more durable cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today ... The Series-A funding is led by Innova Memphis, ... and other private investors.  Arkis, new financing will ... and the market release of its in-licensed Endexo® ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... a startling report released today, National Safety Council research ... proven plan to eliminate prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription Nation ... tackling the worst drug crisis in recorded U.S. history, assigned a ... , New Mexico , Tennessee ... failing states, three – Michigan , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Bracket , a leading clinical ... generation clinical outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) 6.0, at ... 26 – 30, 2016 in Philadelphia , ... Outcome Assessment product of its kind to fully integrate with ... Bracket eCOA 6.0 is a flexible platform for electronic clinical ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: