The Brain-Zapping Olympians

Gaining jacked-up physical powers from frontal-lobe-electrifying headgear sounds like a half-baked superhero origin story. It’s also a premise that athletes are buying as reality. NBA players and Olympians are wearing a brain-stimulation device called Halo Sport in an attempt to transform into champions. The $649 Halo Sport is sold by a San Francisco startup called Halo Neuroscience. The device looks like a bizarro, limited-edition pair of Beats headphones. Like Beats, the headset can play music; unlike Beats, its primary purpose is to electrically trigger the brain using a method called transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS. The science is knotty, but Halo’s sales pitch is fairly simple: Electric pulses emitted from the headset will jolt the brain’s motor cortex, boosting athletic performance. Without any additional physical effort, and just by adding…

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