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Mon, May 05

Inside the Strange New World of DIY Brain Stimulation

When Brent Williams got to RadioShack that day in the spring of 2012, he knew exactly what he was looking for: a variable resistor, a current regulator, a circuit board, and a 9-volt battery. The total came to around $20. Williams is tall and balding, with wire-rim glasses that make him look like an engineer, which he is. He directs a center on technology in education at Kennesaw State University and is the kind of guy who spends his free time chatting up people on his ham radio or trying to glimpse a passing comet with his telescope. But this project was different.

When he got home, he took his supplies into his office. He heated up his soldering iron, hoping his wife wouldn’t see what he was up to. He fished a few wires out of his desk and built a simple circuit. Using alligator clips, he connected the circuit to two kitchen sponges soaked in saline and strapped them to his head with a sweatband. He positioned one sponge just above his right eyebrow and the other up high on the left side of his forehead. Then he snapped the battery into place, turned a small dial, and sent an electric current into his brain. Read more.