tACS: what is it?

The basics of tACS

tACS is an acronym for Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation. A tACS device is a device that applies a low-intensity alternating electrical current to the brain through electrodes on the scalp. The technique is relatively painless and is thought to boost the brain’s own oscillations, which can be used to enhance brain function. In many ways tACS is similar to tDCS as a neuromodulatory technique, but instead of applying a direct electrical current, tACS oscillates the current at a chosen frequency in what is called Hertz (Hz) to interact with the brain’s natural cortical oscillations.

Two pad electrodes are placed over an area of interest of the cranium for stimulation. When a single, frequency that is usually between 1Hz and 100 Hz is applied the exogenous (which means having an outside origin – in this case from a Bumble Bee device) oscillation can synchronize with the brain’s endogenous (internal origin) frequency. This is typically what tACS is.

tACS has recently become more popular with more clinical and consumer devices, but it has a history that dates back decades.

How tACS can change the brain

The effects of tACS relate to the manipulation of brain oscillations. Brain oscillations (or brain rhythms) are always happening in the brain and impact how we think, feel, and also trigger the production of chemicals the brain needs to produce to deal with a multitude of situations and requirement for the human body to function correctly. To be able to re-train the brain with oscillations from tACS, is a way to tap into and regain control of brain functions that may have become corrupted due to external or internal trauma. Stimulation may also facilitate the triggering of neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain and then extend into new neutral networks to increase the brains capabilities. Old school thought was that as humans became adults that they had a limited supply of neurons and that was it. But this has been found to be false. The adult brain can actually create new neurons as much as up to 500 neurons per day from different forms of stimulation that include micro electrical stimulation, as well as from various types of foods and physical exercise.

tACS has now become increasingly researched within the scientific and medical profession for its effects on helping with reduction of depression and other brain problems.

Here is a small sample of some of the medial and scienctific research into tACS: