Electric shock treatment can boost learning ability
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) is a process in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, otherwise known as electric shock treatment or therapy.
TDCS is most often used as a treatment for patients with cognitive impairment, usually the result of a stroke or brain injury.
However, following research which was carried out at the University of Oxford, researchers and psychologists now believe that TDCS could help to improve our learning ability and concentration and problem solving functions.
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At a cost of £500 portable devices which administer this electric shock treatment are available to those looking to improve their academic lifestyle.
The researchers from Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology found that the effects usually lasted around 12 months.
“The idea is to stimulate the brain in order to make it easier to learn new information such as maths,” said the leader of the research, Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh.
“What we find with adults is that the improvement is not only in maths but actually in language, attention and decision making – they not only become better for a short time, but for long periods.
“It is not a magic pill like you might find in Hollywood movies, it’s not going to make you Einstein in one day – you still need to work hard – but together with that it makes an enhancement to your performance.”
Although the team behind the study are confident there are no negative side effects from TDCS, it has attracted some criticism from health experts.
On area of concern is the fact that the TDCS machines are available to buy and use privately, meaning their use will not be regulated.
It is thought misuse of the electric shock therapy equipment could cause some brain damage.
Despite this, the researchers have stated in their report that TDCS should only be used to their recommended guidelines.
Writing in the journal of Current Biology, they said: “When used within suggested guidelines, the acute safety risks (of seizures, for example) seem very low.”
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Introducing Dosis - the AI powered dosing platform
Cloud-based platform Dosis uses AI to help patients and clinicians tailor their medication plans. Shivrat Chhabra, CEO and co-founder, tells us how it works.
When and why was Dosis founded?
Divya, my co-founder and I founded Dosis in 2017 with the purpose of creating a personalised dosing platform. We see personalisation in so many aspects of our lives, but not in the amount of medication we receive. We came across some research at the University of Louisville that personalised the dosing of a class of drugs called ESAs that are used to treat chronic anaemia. We thought, if commercialised, this could greatly benefit the healthcare industry by introducing precision medicine to drug dosing.
The research also showed that by taking this personalised approach, less drugs were needed to achieve the same or better outcomes. That meant that patients were exposed to less medication, so there was a lower likelihood of side effects. It also meant that the cost of care was reduced.
What is the Strategic Anemia Advisor?
Dosis’s flagship product, Strategic Anemia Advisor (SAA), personalises the dosing of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). ESAs are a class of drugs used to treat chronic anaemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease.
SAA takes into account a patient’s previous ESA doses and lab levels, determines the patient’s unique response to the drug and outputs an ESA dose recommendation to keep the patient within a specified therapeutic target range. Healthcare providers use SAA as a clinical decision support tool.
What else is Dosis working on?
In the near term, we are working on releasing a personalised dosing module for IV iron, another drug that’s used in tandem with ESAs to treat chronic anaemia. We’re also working on personalising the dosing for the three drugs used to treat Mineral Bone Disorder. We’re very excited to expand our platform to these new drugs.
What are Dosis' strategic goals for the next 2-3 years?
We strongly believe that personalised dosing will be the standard of care within the next decade, and we’re honored to be a part of making that future a reality. In the next few years, we see Dosis entering partnerships with other companies that operate within value-based care environments, where tools like ours that help reduce cost while maintaining or improving outcomes are extremely useful.
What do you think AI's greatest benefits to healthcare are?
If designed well, AI in healthcare allows for a practical and usable way to deploy solutions that would not be feasible otherwise. For example, it’s possible for someone to manually solve the mathematical equations necessary to personalise drug dosing, but it is just not practical. AI in healthcare offers an exciting path forward for implementing solutions that for so long have appeared impractical or impossible.