What does electricity do to your brain?

Our Millennia-Old Fascination With What Electricity Can Do to Our Brains

Our Millennia-Old Fascination With What Electricity Can Do to Our Brains

What tech’s past tells us about tomorrow
Sept. 12 2018 4:00 AM

The Body Electric

Ever since the Romans put electrogenic fish on their heads to cure migraines, we’ve wondered what electric shocks can do to our brains.

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We’ve used electricity to treat our brains for thousands of years, from placing electric fish on our heads to cure migraines to using electroconvulsive therapy to alleviate depression. But over time, our focus has shifted from restoring health to augmenting our abilities. Should we be wearing battery-powered caps to improve our concentration or implanting electricity-emitting devices to expand our thinking capacity? Guests include Bryan Johnson, CEO of Kernel.

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Podcast production by Bart Warshaw and Kate Holland.

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Tom Standage is deputy editor of the Economist. He studied engineering and computer science at Oxford University and has written for other publications including the New York Times, the Guardian, and Wired.

Seth Stevenson is a senior writer at Slate, where he’s been a contributor since 1997. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.