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Cognitive enhancement at the edge: The US Navy tests neuro-priming and other non-pharmacological aids to boost cognition and performance

Super SEALs: Elite Units Pursue Brain-Stimulating Technologies (Military.com):

“At a conference near Washington, D.C., in February, the commander of all Navy special operations units made an unusual request to industry: Develop and demonstrate technologies that offer “cognitive enhancement” capabilities to boost his elite forces’ mental and physical performance…he has his eye on a number of technologies, including pharmaceutical aids. But the results of one breakthrough involving the direct application of electrical stimulation to the brain have particularly caught his eye.

“Earlier this year, Naval Special Warfare units, working with DIUx, began a specific cognitive enhancement project with a small group of volunteers to test and evaluate achieving higher performance through the use of neuro-stimulation technology,” Capt. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the command, said in a statement…

The company that makes the brain-stimulating device — a headset that could be mistaken for a pair of Beats by Dre headphones — is Halo Neuroscience…Although some experts have warned that the full long-term side effects of using neuro-priming to improve performance may not be known, Wingeier said lab tests have repeatedly proven that the product, which is commercially available in a sport configuration, is safe.

The most useful proven performance aids are much lower-tech than transcranial direct-current brain stimulation, Herr said. They include things such as performance nutrition, supplements, legal stimulants such as caffeine, and even meditation, which has been proven to improve focus and attention and decrease the effects of not getting enough sleep.

In addition to neuro-priming, Herr said technologies, including application of light frequencies and biometric feedback, have been shown to boost performance and cognition.”

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