“I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts.” Oliver Sacks
Neuromodulation + Neuroplasticity = Transformation
The science we explore at The Spaulding-Labuschagne Neuromodualtion Center is that of neuromodulation and its impact on the brain and body through noninvasive neural stimulation, and the subsequent physical changes of neural connections due to the body and brain’s neuroplasticity.
Our brains constantly change with every new experience and thought. The modulation of the brain and the nervous center with noninvasive electrical stimulation can create beneficial, positive changes in the way we think, move, and feel. Neuromodulation stimulates neuroplasticity, which can result in a physical and mental transformation.
The Spaulding-Labuschagne Neuromodulation Center is committed to understanding this growing science of Body Electric—the logic of currents and waves of natural energy that move through our body.
“Only when existing scientific ideas fail where more daring ones succeed, do new ideas get firmly established.”Lisa Randall Theoretical Physicist and author, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs
Body Electric is based on the understanding that our body’s electricity is a natural part of our body’s energy ecosystem. We are electric.
Body Electric is our terminology for research in neuromodulation and neuroplasticity to better utilize our body’s energy of natural electrical signals to strengthen neural connections. This results in increased neural communication that allows our bioelectric selves to perform better.
Body Electric recognizes that the mind is not simply a place, but the synchronized activity of the body and the brain, which need to work together for optimal performance. The language of our thoughts is the conversation of 86 billion neurons throughout our body. It is a fluid dialogue of trillions of synapses that pulse in the brain, body, and mind in waves of electrical data. These waves of data can be modulated by noninvasive electrical stimulation, which can help facilitate healing, improve recovery, or optimize physical performance and mental acuity.
3 Components to Our Science
There are three components to our scientific research at The Spaulding-Labuschagne Neuromodulation Center: neurophysiological assessments, neuromodulation techniques, and neurocognitive assessments. Our main research is focused on pain, neurological and cognitive rehabilitation, and physical and mental performance enhancement. Whether disturbed or well, the body has the potential to transform itself.
1. Neurophysiological assessments
“What are the necessary steps in learning any art? The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory; the other, the mastery of the practice.”Eric Fromm
By employing neurophysiological measurements — electroencephalography (EEG), electrooculography (EOG), and heart rate (HR) — we can have a better understanding of the parameters of individuals’ mental and physical neurological health in addition to their normal and peak performance.
- Measurements of cortical excitability by single and paired pulse TMS
- Dense array EEG for sensitive cortical source localization
- Measurements of electrical cortical activity and cognitive processing using EEG and QEEG (quantitative electroencephalography)
- Analysis of cognitive processes measured by Evoked Response Potentials
- Evaluation of cortical tissue oxygenation and metabolic responses by means of fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy)
- Standardized cognitive batteries and clinical testing to characterize neurocognitive profiles
Photos by: Celeste R. S. Camargo
Explaining the alphabet of noninvasive brain stimulation
“Working with one’s hands is working with one’s mind.”
John Krakauer Neuroscientist
We experiment with three main types of noninvasive neuromodulation techniques that are designed to better understand how our neurological system communicates throughout the body: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), Transcranial Pulse Current Stimulation (tPCS), and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). We also actively investigate and test other technologies.
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
tDCS delivers a low voltage electrical current over the scalp using electrodes. The electrode positions change based upon the experimental design. The current travels from the device through the skull to stimulate the brain. As the current moves, there is “shunting” of the current, meaning that some of the current does not make it into the brain. The current that does pass through the brain is very small, and helps to change brain “plasticity.”
Transcranial Pulse Current Stimulation (tPCS)
Instead of a direct current stimulation between the electrodes as in tDCS, the electrical current in tPCS is a nonconstant form of stimulation pulsing between the electrodes. An advantage of tPCS is that it heightens excitability using a minimal amount of electrical energy (0.1 micro-amp), which is a safer procedure.
Photos by: Celeste R. S. Camargo
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) measures the outcome of each experiment by inducing electrical changes in the brain via a magnetic pulse. Similar to tDCS, this procedure is noninvasive. This magnetic pulse produces a slight electrical charge in the brain and creates a physical response. We can measure the physical response via electrodes on the hand. This measurement of a physical response is called electromyography (EMG). Based upon the increase or decrease in the muscle response, we can measure how the brain changes over the course of tDCS stimulation.
This is important for our research, because with EEG or fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow) we can see physical changes that are related to stimulation, but we but cannot see a cause-and-effect relationship. With TMS, we can show a cause-and-effect relationship, but we cannot see physical changes in the brain. When we combine technologies, we get a more accurate picture of how neuromodulation can affect the brain.
Photos by: Celeste R. S. Camargo
3. Neurocognitive assessments
“Electricity is really just organized lightning.”George Carlin
Mental assessments have advanced with the sophistication of neuroimaging and neurocognitive assessments.
To understand the impact of noninvasive neural stimulation, it’s vital to have a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s cognitive state—memory, attention, problem solving, spatial sense, and even emotions.
Our understanding of the Body Electric synthesis of natural energy between the body and the brain, gives us a clearer picture of the relationship between a person’s brain, thought, behavior, mood, and body.