Brain hackers

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This is the page of the Brain Hackers aka the Neurohacking/Neuromodulation London Hackspace Group. We do experiments and play around with kits to measure and alter brain activity in a non-invasive way and develop novel accessible neurostimulation means accompanied by real time measurement and feedback. Some of us are trained neuroscientists or electronics engineers, others are hobbyists. All friendly and interested people are welcome to volunteer and participate in trials, but everything is obviously at your own risk (where such risk may exist).

List of kit available by different members of the group:

-EEG -> multiple copies of the 1 channel bipolar (TrueSense Kit) recorder, MindWave Mobile (1 channel), Emotiv Epoc (14 channels), KT88 (16 channels, photoic stimulation), AMEA slow potentials mapper (2 channels)

-tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) -> DIY, awaiting second release of

-tACS (transcranial alternate current stimulation) -> DIY, DrTES (transcranial analgesia device)

-Transcranial laser / decoherent light stimulation within optical permeability window of tissues (roughly between 600 and 1200 nm) -> Matrix LLLT with in-built photometer and external SRT block, impulse modulated 890 nm single and matrix lasers, continuous modulated 810 and 640 nm, all-inclusive large laser/LED head, impulse modulated 640 nm single and matrix lasers are on the way.

-Weak field TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation, microtesla range or even lower) -> 64 coil Koren helmet augmented for placement of more coils, smaller phone tap coils - based hats and setups, large (3m) coil

-Other -> SGR sensor, photopletismograph, modulated high voltage "singing arc", scopes, magnetometers, function generators, amps etc.

Some of the project ideas we are interested in and would be eager to test in regard to different neuromodulation means:

1. tDCS

- measurement! Can it be run with simultaneous measurement of EEG activity without damaging the sensor and producing meaningful data? Currently available tDCS kits provide no real time feedback

- interaction of tDCS with other neurostimulation means including light and low induction TMS

- interaction of tDCS with nootropics (such as ampakines like piracetam) or ergotropics (such as modafinil and bromantane) for those already using such drugs

2. tACS/tRNS (transcranial random noise stimulation)

- can the benefits of both tDCS and tACS be gained if monophasic pulsed current is used?

- the colours of noise in tRNS ! Would they make any difference?

3. Coherent/decoherent light

- does the wavelength makes much difference and what is it?

- continuous light stimulation versus impulse stimulation with high peak power very short bursts: how would the effects differ?

- continuous versus modulated stimulation: how do we modulate? what are the observed differences?

4. Weak field TMS (also called LiTMS - low induction TMS in some sources)

- do God Helmet, "octopus", "shakti" and other Dr. Persinger's stimulation protocols actually work?

- what other signals can be applied, and how

- reproducing "Zhadin effect" (see as a starting reading material) at Hackspace - can we do it?

- generally, checking whether the KT (Bolzmann constant x temperature) thermodynamic limitation for biologic effects of weak magnetic fields withstands! ( is a good challenge starter!)

5. Other

- record and replay! Can a specific state-associated EEG recording from a selected area induce or promote this state if replayed back to the same area of the same or different person as electric or magnetic signal?

- producing software capable of using ERP's (Evoked Response Potentials) with simple and cheap BCI like the Mindwave or TSK sensors

Of course, you are more than welcome to suggest other relevant ideas to test and projects to try. The possibilities are, indeed, "Limitless" (pun intended).

P.S.: folks from Mind Hacking and Biohacking groups are, of course, welcome to join in, but we surely need electronic engineering and coding enthusiasts interested in such matters!

For neuroscientific and technical questions and curiosities involving brain hacking, feel free to get in touch with any of the following:

Martin Dinov

Andrew Vladimirov

Dirk Bruere

Some of the popular relevant presentations from Andrew can be found here:


Some relevant reading for those who want to go hardcore :-) Of course it is far from being complete and needs to be updated, oh well...

  • Accessible measurement methodologies and BCI

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Erin Treacy Solovey et al. Using fNIRS Brain Sensing in Realistic HCI Settings: Experiments and Guidelines. UIST’09, October 4–7, 2008, Victoria, BC, Canada.

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Hoshi, Y. (2009). Near-Infrared Spectroscopy for Studying Higher Cognition Neural Correlates of Thinking (pp. 83-93).

Thomas Elbert. Slow Cortical Potentials Reflect the Regulation of Cortical Excitability. Slow potential changes in the human brain : [Proceedings of a NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Slow Potential Changes in the Human Brain, held May 13 - 16, 1990 in Il Ciocco, Italy] / ed. by W. C. McCallum et al. New York : Plenum Press, pp. 235-251.

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Ferrari M, Mottola L, Quaresima V. Principles, Techniques, and Limitations of Near Infrared Spectroscopy. Can J Appl Physiol 2004; 29(4): 463-487.

Gersten A, Heimer D, Raz A. Oxygenation and Blood Volume Periodic Waveforms in the Brain. Hunter College preprint 2006;

Gevins, A., & Smith, M. (2003). Neurophysiological measures of cognitive workload during human-computer interaction. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 4, 113-131.

Leanne M. et al. This is Your Brain on Interfaces: Enhancing Usability Testing with Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. CHI 2011, Session: Brain & Bio-sensor Interactions. May 7–12, 2011.

Maria Trinidad Herrera Ezquierroa, Patrizia Cherubinob, Anton Giulio Maglionec, Alfredo Colosimod, Giovanni Vecchiatoc, Tools and techniques to image functional brain activity. International Journal of Bioelectromagnetism Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 84 - 95, 2012.

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Shafi MM, Westover MB, Fox MD, Pascual-Leone A. Exploration and modulation of brain network interactions with noninvasive brain stimulation in combination with neuroimaging. Eur J Neurosci. 2012 Mar;35(6):805-25.

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M.J. Schroeder, R.E. Barr. Quantitative analysis of the electroencephalogram during cranial electrotherapy stimulation. Clinical Neurophysiology 112 (2001) 2075–2083

William O. Tatum. Handbook of EEG interpretation. 2008. ISBN-13: 978-1-933864-11-2

Tong F, Pratte MS. Decoding patterns of human brain activity. Annu Rev Psychol. 2012 Jan 10;63:483-509.

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Juha Voipio, Pekka Tallgren, Erkki Heinonen, Sampsa Vanhatalo, and Kai Kaila. Millivolt-Scale DC Shifts in the Human Scalp EEG: Evidence for a Nonneuronal Generator. J Neurophysiol 89: 2208–2214, 2003.

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* Neurostimulation methods and their effects

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Andrews SC, Hoy KE, Enticott PG, Daskalakis ZJ, Fitzgerald PB. Improving working memory: the effect of combining cognitive activity and anodal transcranial direct current stimulation to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Brain Stim 2011;4(2):84–9.


Archy O. de Berker, Marom Bikson and Sven Bestmann. Predicting the behavioral impact of transcranial direct current stimulation: issues and limitations.

Brian A Coffman et al. Enhancement of object detection with transcranial direct current stimulation is associated with increased attention BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:108 Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. October 2013 | Volume7 | Article 613

Joaquim P. Brasil-Neto Learning, Memory, and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. Front Psychiatry. 2012; 3: 80.

Leila Chaieb, Walter Paulus, and Andrea Antal, Evaluating Aftereffects of Short-Duration Transcranial Random Noise Stimulation on Cortical Excitability, Neural Plasticity, vol. 2011, Article ID 105927, 5 pages, 2011.

Richard P. Chi, Allan W. Snyder. Facilitate Insight by Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation. PLoS ONE. February 2011, Volume 6, Issue 2

H. Chung et al., The nuts and bolts of low-level laser (light) therapy, Ann. Biomed. Eng. 40(2), 516–533 (2012).

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Day, B. L. (1999). Galvanic vestibular stimulation: new uses for an old tool. Journal of Physiology, 517, 631.

Dockery, C.A., Hueckel-Weng, R., Birbaumer, N., and Plewnia, C. (2009). Enhancement of planning ability by transcranial direct current stimulation. J. Neurosci. 29, 7271–7277.

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Fregni, F., P. S. Boggio, et al. (2005). Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation of prefrontal cortex enhances working memory. Experimental Brain Research 166(1): 23-30.

Brita Fritsch et al. Direct current stimulation promotes BDNF-dependent synaptic plasticity: Potential implications for motor learning. Neuron. 2010 April 29; 66(2): 198–204.

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Ilic S, Leichliter S, Streeter J, Oron A, DeTaboada L, Oron U: Effects of power densities, continuous and pulse frequencies, and number of sessions of low-level laser therapy on intact rat brain. Photomed Laser Surg 2006, 24:458-466.

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Y. Y. Huang et al., “Biphasic dose response in low level light therapy,” Dose Response 7(4), 358–383 (2009).

Y. Y. Huang et al., “Biphasic dose response in low level light therapy— an update,” Dose Response 9(4), 602–618 (2011).

Cohen Kadosh, R., Levy, N., O’Shea, J., Shea, N., and Savulescu, J. (2012). The neuroethics of non-invasive brain stimulation. Curr. Biol. 22, R108–R111.

Cohen Kadosh, R., The Stimulated Brain: Cognitive Enhancement Using Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation. Academic Press Inc (16 Jun 2014) - a must have book!

Karim, A. A. (2010). Transcranial cortex stimulation as a novel approach for probing the neurobiology of dreams: Clini­cal and neuroethical implications. International Journal of Dream Research, 3, 15-18.

Karim, A. A., Schneider, M., Lotze, M., Veit, R., Sauseng, P., Braun, C., & Birbaumer, N. (2010). The truth about lying: Inhibition of the anterior prefrontal cortex improves de­ceptive behavior. Cerebral Cortex, 20, 205-213.

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A. Kienle and R. Hibst, “Light guiding in biological tissue due to scattering,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 97(1), 018104 (2006).

King RL, Brown JR, Newsome WT, Pauly KB. Effective parameters for ultrasound-induced in vivo neurostimulation. Ultrasound in Med. & Biol., Ultrasound Med Biol. 2013 Feb;39(2):312-31.

Randy L. King, Julian R. Brown, Kim Butts Pauly. Localization of Ultrasound-Induced In Vivo Neurostimulation in the Mouse Model. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. Volume 40, Issue 7 , Pages 1512-1522, July 2014

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Min-Fang Kuo and Michael A. Nitsche. Effects of Transcranial Electrical Stimulation on Cognition. Clin EEG Neurosci 2012 43: 192.

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Teresa Iuculano and Roi Cohen Kadosh. The Mental Cost of Cognitive Enhancement. The Journal of Neuroscience, March 6, 2013 • 33(10):4482– 4486

A.A. Marino, E. Nilson, A.L. Chesson, C. Frilot, Effect of low frequency magnetic fields on brain electrical activity in human subjects, Clin. Neurophysiol. 115 (2004) 1195–1201.

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McCarthy, T.J., De Taboada, L., Hildebrandt, P.K., Ziemer, E.L., Richieri, S.P., and Streeter, J. (2010). Long-term safety of single and multiple infrared transcranial laser treatments in Sprague-Dawley rats. Photomed. Laser Surg. 28, 663–667

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Bryce P. Mulligan, Michael A. Persinger. Experimental simulation of the effects of sudden increases in geomagnetic activity upon quantitative measures of human brain activity: Validation of correlational studies. Neuroscience Letters 516 (2012) 54– 56

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Michael A. Persinger, Kevin S. Saroka. Minimum Attenuation of Physiologically-Patterned, 1 μTesla Magnetic Fields through Simulated Skull and Cerebral Space. Journal of Electromagnetic Analysis and Applications, 2013, 5, 151-156.

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Sanja Ilic et al. Effects of Power Densities, Continuous and Pulse Frequencies, and Number of Sessions of Low-Level Laser Therapy on Intact Rat Brain. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery Volume 24, Number 4, 2006

Salman Shahid, PengWen, and Tony Ahfock. Assessment of Electric Field Distribution in Anisotropic Corticaland Subcortical Regions Under the Influence of tDCS. Bioelectromagnetics 35:41-57 (2014)

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Zaghloul Ahmed and Andrzej Wieraszko. The Influence of Pulsed Magnetic Fields (PMFs) on Nonsynaptic Potentials Recorded From the Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems In Vitro. Bioelectromagnetics 30:621^630 (2009)

* Possible molecular level neurostimulation mechanisms and related works

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Aaron Chih-Hao Chen, Ying-Ying Huang, Praveen R Arany, Michael R. Hamblin. Role of Reactive Oxygen Species in Low Level Light Therapy. In Mechanisms for Low-Light Therapy IV, edited by Michael R. Hamblin, Ronald W. Waynant, Juanita Anders, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 7165, 716502 · © 2009 SPIE.

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