Alpha brain rhythms are associated with concentration and focus. Low alpha wave activity is present in a range of mental disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As we age, our peak alpha frequency and overall power also shifts down, making it harder for us to concentrate.
Conversely, higher alpha peak frequencies and greater alpha wave power is associated with better attention and focus. Experiments show that people with high natural alpha peak frequencies can better distinguish visual stimuli which occur closely together – so if you’re a gamer, you are at your best when your brain is operating at high alpha frequencies.
There is an increasing realisation that the reason for this is that the alpha waves in your brain arise from populations of neurons attempting to filter out distractions so you can concentrate on your tasks.
Neuroscientist have shown that it is possible to alter alpha power and peak frequency by means of transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS).
But the picture isn’t as clear or as simple as it is with tDCS. Simply stimulating at the desired frequency doesn’t always work best. Often the brain will return to pre-stimulation levels of brain activity relatively quickly – far more quickly than in the case of tDCS.
So some researchers are beginning to explore alternative stimulation protocols such as administering tACS in on/off bursts with the aim of inducing a more persistent shift in alpha activity.
The research is still novel – even more so than tDCS. However, in our continuing effort to push forward the neurostimulation options available to everyday users, we at focus have been experimenting with our own implementations of these natural evolutions of tACS. We’re excited to announce the Foc.us V3 with transcranial Ripple Current Stimulation (tRCS). Ripple currents use dynamically changing powers and frequencies which are designed to better induce changes in alpha brain wave activity. It is ideally used in combination with EEG to set your current alpha peak frequencies. But if you don’t have access to EEG equipment, just use the default settings which are designed to work for the majority of users. If you find it’s not enough (or it’s too much), you can always dial it up (or down).
The results will vary depending on placement. The best thing is to keep things gentle and experiment with what suits you. To help us improve our algorithms, please take the time to give us feedback on the results you find.
tRCS sounds like magic?
Our first version targets the occipital regions of your brain, meaning it will ramp up the sensitivity of your visual perception. If you’re a gamer, you can flick it on and increase the refresh rate of your brain just when you’re hitting the highest level in the game and you need to overwork your visual system. Research shows that if events occur during natural troughs in your occipital alpha oscillations, you can completely miss crucial visual events. Just the sort of thing you don’t want to be doing when you need to spot everything that’s coming at you no matter how fast.
In fact, you can use it anywhere you need to be at your peak visually acuity: playing tennis, white water rafting, clay pigeon shooting :)
If you want to target your general concentration, then you need to target the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,