A Silicon Valley-based startup claims that their headphones, which send electrodes through your head in an effort to stimulate your brain, can boost athletic performance. Halo Neuroscience designed headphones, with a similar look to Beats by Dr. Dre, that pair with a mobile application and send pulses of energy through your brain.
By sending electric pulses through the brain, the company says that the headphones can increase the effectiveness of training sessions. Halo Neuroscience says that “pulses of energy improve the brain’s response to training, enabling the motor cortex to send stronger, more synchronous signals to muscles.”
The result of more synchronous signals to the muscles, according to Halo Neuroscience, is increased strength and skill acquisition. Athletes put the headphones on 20 minutes before exercise and the effects can last upwards of one hour.
The most recognized improvements have come from the U.S. ski team which saw a considerable increase in vertical jumping after wearing the headphones versus those who did not. Users of the headphones are reported to have increased their jump force by 31 per cent after use.
The Golden State Warriors, the defending champions of the National Basketball Association, are believed to be using the product during this year’s playoffs, set to conclude on Sunday.
— James Michael McAdoo (@jamesmcadoo) March 16, 2016
The method, known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), has not been approved by the FDA in the United States, according to CNN, and the product is used exclusively by elite athletes right now.
As Canadian Running‘s senior editor Alex Hutchinson writes in The New Yorker, the evidence on the effectiveness of tDCS has been mixed since its rise in 2007. More than 2,000 studies have looked at the effects of energy pulses with some claiming that tDCS has no effect on performance while others concluded that the method increased endurance.