This week we had no lecture. In stead, during normal lecture time, we visited the Aalto Behavioral Laboratory (ABL), Advanced Magnetic Imaging Centre (AMI Centre), and Aalto TMS. ABL laboratory contains a electrically shielded room and different measurement equipment such as EEG (electroencephalography), eye tracking devices and thermal camera. The AMI Centre houses a 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device and various other stimulation and measurement systems used together with MRI system. Aalto TMS laboratory, where the TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a measurement laboratory where the you stimulate the brain through the scull with a rapidly changing magnetic field. All these laboratories function under the Aalto University School of Science and it is very cool that the university houses so many research infrastructures that give the researchers a great set of tools to study the human brain.
On Tuesday, we visited Sooma, which is a Finnish company specialized in producing tDCS-stimulators (transcranial Direct Current Stimulation). tDCS is a modality where place two electrodes, a cathode and and anode, on the patients head, and apply a small ~2-4 mA current through the electrodes. The current then causes a small change in the membrain potentials close to the electrodes which makes the neurons more likely or less likely to fire action potentials. This can be used to balance hypo- and/or hyperactivity of stimulated areas. The idea is very similar to TMS where you apply low or high frequency TMS to change the hypo- or hyperactivity of the targeted area. The biggest application of tDCS is currently is treatment of depression, which the TMS can also be used, and the results are very similar to TMS. The biggest advantage of tDCS compared to TMS is, that the devices are much much cheaper and doesn’t require facilities and a lot of staff to be able to apply it to patients. The lecture covered the modality very thoroughly and was very interesting as we where not so familiar beforehand about the tDCS – modality.