SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Giants are using cutting-edge technology to give them an edge on the field with players using special headphones that send a current to their brains.
Professional athletes often look for any edge to improve performance and a San Francisco tech startup has created a device that’s getting some pretty interesting results.
Halo Neuroscience is selling a set of headphones that offers the possibility of a better workout. The Halo Sport headphones have a set of nibs that send a faint electrical charge into the motor cortex, the area of the brain that controls muscle reaction.
“So that it improves better, improves faster and you get more benefit from hard, smart quality training,” said Brett Weingeier, the company’s Chief Technical Officer and co-founder.
The electrical charge is supposed to increase brain “plasticity” or – in other words – its ability to learn. By strengthening the connection between the brain and muscle, the body is said to learn to perform movements more easily.
And while it sounds like marketing hype, the Giants seem to think there is something to it. They’ve been testing the technology with its AAA club in Sacramento and now they’re making it available to their big-leaguers as well.
When asked if he was intrigued by what he has seen about the device so far, UCSF neuroscientist Dr. Ted Zanto admitted that he was.
“I am. I was highly skeptical that something so simple could actually change the way you behave,” said Zanto.
The UCSF neuroscientist said the idea of stimulating the brain with electrical current has been around for centuries, but recent studies are showing promise. And while muscle reaction may only be improved by a few milliseconds, that may be enough for some athletes.
“If you’re trying to hit a baseball flying at you at 90 or 100 mph, every millisecond can matter,” said Zanto. “It can be the difference between a foul ball and a homerun.”
If the research pans out, the technology has the potential to improve many fast motor activities, from sports to learning to play music.
But there is one downside for the less athletic among us; it only claims to improve workouts, not take the place of them.
“Nothing comes for free. If you use it sitting on your couch, you just get better at sitting on your couch, right?” laughed Weingeier.