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 (

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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SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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