Thync is an app based transdermal electrical stimulation device designed to reinforce either Parasympathetic or Sympathetic functions. The effect is to skew neurology towards either rest or action. Transdermal electrical stimulation injects small electrical pulses through the skin directly into the nervous system. With Thync these pulses are pre-configured to influence brain wave and specific brain circuit activity.
I have been using Thync on almost a daily basis for several months (as of 1/1/16) and find that it performs as advertised, sort of… At bedtime, when I am wound up from work, it can be very helpful to shut down my brain and put me into a deep, unconscious sleep. I usually ricochet out of this sleep within a few hours into wakefulness, but find I can quite easily enter into a more normal dreaming sleep from there. During the day, if I am unfocused, it can orient me to the drive to do something. Both these states I have found to be effective and appreciate.
Thync states that you need to work with the device for a while before it really starts working for you. I don’t know why this is the case, as one could easily think that it would work immediately. However, I did find improved efficacy after a few weeks of use. I also found that if I over stimulate my Sympathetic Nervous System, I can drive myself into depression using Thync. I suspect that this is a consequence of my individual compensations and adaptations to an ADD type cognitive style. However, the first time this happened I entered a relatively deep non-contextual depression for 4-5 days. It took a while to figure out that the Thync may be culprit. It was also weird being depressed, but not having it associated with any context. The next time this happened I recognized the signs of overstimulation, stopped and only experienced depression for a few hours. It has not occurred since.
Thync is not a Neurofeedback device. It is rather a member of a family of devices that electrically or magnetically stimulate the brain based upon pre-configured patterns known to be associated with specific brain states. It is a one size fits all approach. Given the complexity of brain state function, it is surprising that it works at all. It is likely that the next generation of these devices will both sense brain activity, and based on current state, influence brain function towards the desired optimization. This is by definition neurofeedback, and an app based portable neurofeedback tool could be an incredibly powerful resource, based on my experience with this pattern based tool.
The Thync app is an ambitious, relatively complex application for a phone. It is also new, and currently being updated on about a monthly basis. However, it is the most buggy app I have ever run on my IPhone. It can crash itself, the module or the phone. I have reinstalled the app numerous times, as it simply stopped working. I also have to regularly reboot my phone because of the app (the only time I have ever experienced this). I see that Thync is working to resolve these issues, and trust that over time they will get their conditional logic sorted out. It is also regrettable that Thync does not offer a software development kit to open up the potential of the technology.
I recommend Thync for those wishing to explore non-pharmaceutical approaches to support with rest and drives, and whom are capable of dealing with a certain amount of product glitchiness.
Another product using transdermal stimulation is Halo. The difference between Halo and Thync is that Halo focuses stimulation on the sensorimotor cortex of the brain. Intentionally stimulating these circuits seems to provide benefit to gaining motor skill and competency. Thync makes similar claims, but I can see how the Halo unit could have greater efficacy specific to motor function.
The unit is expensive (~$700.00), but the potential for improving motor function seems impressive based on the published studies. My wife and I are experimenting with this device, and I may eventually build it into some of my sessions where neuromotor function is an issue, to shorten the training cycle.