Bob Goldman

Let's be honest here -- you need a jolt.

Yes, you manage to show up at the job every morning, and, sure, you're able to spend most of the day in a semi-vertical position, and OK, you're really good at looking like you're actually working, but we know the truth, don't we? You're going through the motions. You're cruising on empty. You've checked out.

Like I say -- you need a jolt.

Now I am not talking about a jolt -- or even a jot -- of motivation. No new-age guru spouting self-realization claptrap is going to get you going. When I say jolt, I mean jolt. As in electricity. As in actual amperes of electrical current coursing through your brain.

Yes, I'm talking about transcranial direct current stimulation, or as we like to call it in brain-hacking circles, tDCS.

Since you are currently operating without current, I should explain that tDCS is a hot topic for people interested in improving mental performance without the use of surgery, drugs or vodka. According to Amy Standen, whose story on tDCS, "Hacking The Brain With Electricity: Don't Try This At Home," recently appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition," just slightly electrocuting your brain is "the latest craze for people who want to improve their mental performance: zapping the brain with electricity to make it sharper and more focused."

Does it work? According to Standen, when the Air Force performed a performance test on pilots, "those who received tDCS performed 25 percent better on training tests than those who received no brain stimulation."

With results like this, who wouldn't want to stick their toe in an electric socket and jump-start their cranium?

This may all sound crazy, but it shouldn't sound new. Electroshock therapy has been around since Roman days when electric torpedo fish were placed on a patient's scalp as a cure for headaches. Today, deep-brain stimulation from surgically implanted electrodes is regularly used for the treatment of epilepsy and Parkinson's.

What's different about tDCS is that shocking the brain is no longer the sole property of fancy-schmancy neurosurgeons. It's a do-it-yourself world, friend, and now, average folks, like thee and me, are frying our brains on our own, and we're loving it!

If you're wondering whom to thank for this shocking development, you can direct your gratitude toward the world's nerds and gamers. Their need to maximize their minimal mental capacity has lead to devices like the $249 headset, a "Star Wars"-grade apparatus that "passes a small electric current (<2.05mA) through the prefrontal cortex of the wearer."

Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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