Brief case of the finely tuned brain scam

12.04.20: A SENIOR scientist yesterday warned of the dangers of neuroboosting.

The craze, mainly among young people, involves using portable black-market brain scanners to create hallucinations by stimulating certain areas of the brain.

"We had a case last week of a young man who had given himself an epileptic fit in a nightclub," said Dr Vyvyan Clarke of the Institute of Psychiatry in London. "Using these machines without the correct medical supervision can be dangerous."

Brain scanners were once the size of a room but now fit neatly into a briefcase. For years neurofeedback has been used by some psychiatrists as a non-drug method of stimulating or calming areas of patients' brains that were misfiring.

"In depressed patients, the part of the frontal cortex that produces joy is switched off," says Clarke. "Using a portable scanner, they can learn to turn it on consciously."

Neuroboosters are the latest addition to a new generation of drugs based on natural brain chemicals known as neuropeptides, which enable scientists to fine-tune emotions.

"We can now give shy people some confidence but still leave them a touch of balancing anxiety," says Clarke. Street versions of the mood tuners now fetch E$65 a tablet. JB