The U.S. Military Has Successfully Tested Electrical Brain Stimulation for Its Troops

November 27, 2016 5:00 am
Officers ready to launch nuclear weapons in case of an attack on the United States (Getty Images)


There are few, if any, jobs more demanding than being in the military. Beyond the actual tasks required, there is the underlying knowledge that people are counting on you and, if you fail, lives will be lost. Understandably, there is a drive to ensure these personnel all perform at their peak level. If possible, it would be great to give them a little help.

Ian Sample explored how the U.S. military has been seeking to give a boost to its soldiers, notably through electrical brain stimulation. He writes for The Guardian:

“The brain stimulation kits use five electrodes to send weak electric currents through the skull and into specific parts of the cortex. Previous studies have found evidence that by helping neurons to fire, these minor brain zaps can boost cognitive ability….The technology is seen as a safer alternative to prescription drugs, such as modafinil and ritalin, both of which have been used off-label as performance enhancing drugs in the armed forces.”

(It’s noted that this is ideal for people doing monotonous activities, where over time they might be inclined to let their attention slip and fail to respond when a crisis presents itself.)

Understandably, there are concerns over the rise of brain stimulation. Sample notes that “devices may be safe in the hands of experts, the technology is freely available, because the sale of brain stimulation kits is unregulated.” And yes, it is possible to overstimulate the brain, damaging it.

To learn more about a breakthrough both beneficial and a bit menacing, click here.

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