The history of Neurostimulation goes back to Ancient times. The first known evidence comes from Ancient Greece. In 400 BC, Hippocrates, the “father of medicine”, discovered that placing a live torpedo fish (a type of ray capable of emitting electricity) over a patient’s head could relieve their headaches.
A few years later, in 46 AD, the Roman Scribonius Lagus, the personal physician to Emperor Claudius, was an early proponent of the treatment. Writing in the first century A.D., he recommended placing an electric ray on the patient’s head:
“To immediately remove and permanently cure a headache, however long-lasting and intolerable, a live black torpedo [electric ray] is put on the place which is in pain, until the pain ceases and the part grows numb.”
In the Medieval period physicians studied the anatomy and mechanical nature of the shock provoked by the torpedo fish, and invented electrotherapy. During the 17th century, storage, and delivery of electrical energy became the challenge, as Alessandro Volta, Michael Faraday and Galvani’s work led to the development of batteries, whereas in the US in the 1750 Benjamin Franklin began to experiment with electrical devices and explore their nature. Following many years of research and innovation, neuroscience today has discovered more efficient and sophisticated methods to apply this method using more precise devices.
3 interesting findings from Neurostimulation
There are 3 simple but astonishing findings coming from the study of Neurostimulation:
The first is that we have been stimulating ourselves without current since the beginning of mankind both directly and indirectly. The methods include physical stimulation (massaging, acupuncture, sexual intercourse), auditory stimulation (music), inhalatory stimulation (smoking) and nutritional stimulation (food & drink).
The most popular method of direct stimulation is massaging, where pressure is applied to the skin and body to relieve stress and pain. Acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles through a person’s skin to relieve pain. Sexual intercourse, aside of being performed for mating, also stimulates the entire body and has numerous stress relieving and pain-relieving properties.
Music arrives at the ear in the form of sound waves, where the ear canal funnels them to the eardrum, causing it vibrate, which eventually sends electric current to the brain, and eventually travel around the frontal lobe, the cerebellum, and other areas of our brain, resulting in changing our emotions.
Finally, eating also indirectly causes stimulation too. The vast majority of existing studies refer to the conversion of food to fluid neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. But there are further effects in our mood due to transferring electric current during that process, as well as the stimulation of various neurons involved in the final phases of metabolism.
The second is that we cannot live without current running in our heads and bodies. Electricity is required for the nervous system to send signals throughout the body and to the brain, making it possible for us to move, think and feel. Inevitably, our body carries electric charge, both on the skin and flesh, as well as inside all human fluids. Our cells are specialized to conduct electrical currents. A human body generates between 10 and 100 millivolts, and cells generate electrical charges via electrolytes like Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium.
The third is that, by applying a low amount of current on the top of our head and other areas of our body, we can change how we think and feel. It is almost as if we are a circuit board. This phenomenon existed for millions of years, yet, astonishingly, most people today still do not know! The likely reason is that batteries were only invented in the last 300 years, and somehow no one guessed that basically attach one to their head could be beneficial, nor did they know how to do that correctly.
Today we have developed multiple methods to do this safely and precisely backed by 40 years of Neuroscientific research. The most popular is Transcranial Electrical stimulation, which is particularly efficient for mood improvement and mood enhancement. tES has different methods, including tDCS (Direct Current Stimulation), tACS (Alternative Current Stimulation), tPCS (Pulsated Current Stimulation) and tRNS (Random Noise Stimulation).
tES methods, from “The Stimulated Brain” by Roi Cohen Kadosh
These modern methods of Neurostimulation provide numerous benefits further from just pain relief, and allow someone to learn faster, enhance cognitive abilities, increase working memory, experience new mental states, stabilize psychological characteristics, withdraw addictions, reduce cravings, and fight depression.
More than 100 of the major Universities in the World including Oxford, Cambridge, ETH Zurich in Europe, and Stanford, MIT, Harvard and Yale research on Neuroscience and Bioengineering, and run tDCS Neurostimulation workshops. Frequent Neuromodulation conferences allow researchers to exchange the latest knowledge. Neurostimulation is booming in the medical field. Medical electrical neurostimulation devices are becoming available at the top hospitals, and new Neurofeedback, Neurostimulation and Neurorehabilitation clinics have already opened around the world, all offering medical approaches to relieving anxiety and pain.
The growth of the Neurotech industry
Neurostimulation methods applied in medical and consumer products, and combined with computer technologies are what we call Neurotechnology. Neurotechnology is a fast growing market at a rate of 13% per year. What is even more exciting is that Wearables are also one of the fastest growing industries at 23% per year.
Sources: IDTechX, Neurotechreports
There are also Consumer devices that use electrical neurostimulation ranging from $20-$700 already sold by innovative startups across the world including the US, London, Germany and Finland. However, Neurostimulation devices today are still not considered part of Wearables. Wearables are smart accessories that can connect to the internet and mobile phones, or use advanced technologies like AR, VR, Mixed reality and Internet of Things. A newer category is also products like FitBit, that use sensors to measure bodily functions like heart rate, temperature, and even movement.
Current Neurostimulation wearables have a primary design that looks either like from “Frankenstein” or “Startrek”, have complicated instructions, and use complex scientific jargon. They are ultimately suited only for researchers and engineers, and not for the wide consumer market. Moreover, all current devices and wearables are not suited to wear in most everyday situations, aside of in front of a computer or a game console.
Neurotech Wearables. Source: NeuCogni Market research
NeuCogni: the consumer-friendly Neurotech brand
At NeuCogni, we are merging the 2 markets of Wearables and Neuromodulation. NeuCogni is pioneering fashionable, lifestyle wearables to increase cognition, produce positive mental states and treat symptoms of neurodisorders. Our Vision is to allow everyone to enjoy the benefits of Neurotech, and in the long run, to organize the world’s Cognition and Emotions. We want to become the leader in Cognitive Wearables (non-medical) for healthy people, a sector where there we have no competition.
Our main advantage is in providing a strong user-centric brand, and a user-friendly, product design. We make wearables that people like to wear both at home, but also outside, at the park, in a shop, or even in the office. We design intuitive products that first of people like to wear, that do not invade their lives, and can be used by anyone without having to be a scientist or researcher, or have to be involved with all the jargon and neuroscientific complexity.
Behind the user-friendly design, we apply sound neuroscientific and technological advances to help people improve their mood, cognition and mental health.
Visit us at www.neucogni.com to receive updates
Co-Founder & CEO