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How To Learn Faster, Jump Higher, Increase Explosiveness, Push Harder & Biohack Your Brain Beyond It’s Normal Capacity.

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Last week, I posted to Instagram the “most dangerous piece of workout equipment I own”.

And no, it was not a mace, or a unicycle, or a parachute or any other risky exercise device.

Instead, it was a simple piece of headgear that looks like a nice set of earphones.

But within that headgear is embedded one of the devices known to modern exercise science when it comes to doing things like making a hard, voluminous workout feel shockingly simple and short, allowing you to acquire skills like a tennis serve or golf swing at double or triple the speed you'd normally be able to, and enabling you to push much, much harder during a workout than you'd ever be able to do without a little bit of help from modern brain biohacking.

The device is called a Halo, and I call it “dangerous” because it allows me to push my body and brain to levels I'd never be able to reach on my own.

And it's all based on the science of something called “neuropriming”. Developed from fifteen years of academic research, neuropriming is basically the process of causing excitability of motor neurons before or during athletic and exercise training to things like improve strength, skill, explosiveness, and endurance.

Michael Johnson, 4x Olympic Gold Medalist says that “…it's doing something that we've never seen before – something the sports market's never seen before…”

We're talking explosive force development, increased propulsive force, enhanced skill acquisition, increased rate of force development, and host of other factors influenced by the ability of neuropriming to put the brain's motor cortex in a temporary state of hyper-learning that lasts for about an hour. During this post neuropriming time, feeding your brain quality athletic training repetitions results in this information being more fully incorporated into your brain. Essentially, the headgear I've been using allows me to push far harder than my brain would normally let me and makes practice of a skill far more productive and efficient for the brain.

Normally, athletes require literally thousands of reps to create the neurologic changes necessary to perform at the highest level come game time. But this technology changes all that.

It's called a “Halo“.

Dr. Daniel Chao, my guest on today's podcast, is a neurotech entrepreneur who specializes in devices that improve brain performance. He is the co-founder and CEO of Halo Neuroscience. The company's first product, Halo Sport, is the first neurostimulation system built specifically for athletes.

Before Halo, Dr. Chao was the head of business development at NeuroPace where he played a central role in the development of the world's first responsive neurostimulation system that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy in a unanimous 13-0 vote. Prior to Neuropace, Dr. Chao was a consultant at McKinsey & Company and earned his M.D. and M.S. in neuroscience from Stanford University.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-The special part of the brain mammals possess that other less complex species do not, and how you can target that specific area of the brain…[10:40]

-How something called transcranial direct current stimulation, also known as tDCS, can be used to stimulate certain section of your brain…[12:52]

-What kind of studies have been done on “neuropriming” to actually show whether or not it actually works…[15:10]

-Why workouts and skill acquisition actually feel easier after you “shock your brain”…[18:00]

-When shocking your brain can actually be safe, and when you should avoid it like the plague…[21:45]

-Whether something like this can be used general cognitive performance such as language learning or focus…[27:30 & 30:00]

-How to use tDCS stimulation for video gaming and playing instruments…[32:25]

-The super-charged sniper training RadioLab episode on which Ben first discovered tDCS and how the Halo is any different than the 20 dollar “make your own TDCS” threads on Reddit…[39:05]

-The pro athletes currently using the Halo and what they have reported for results…[45:25]

-Whether or not this type of brain training is considered neurodoping by the World Anti Doping Association…[53:20]

-What happens if you wear headgear is too far forward or too far back…[59:50]

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

The Halo (save $120 with code BEN10)

GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human

The Reddit tDCS groups

The 9 Volt Nirvana RadioLab episode

The Brain Zapping Olympians episode

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Kane or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!


Also published on Medium.

45 thoughts on “How To Learn Faster, Jump Higher, Increase Explosiveness, Push Harder & Biohack Your Brain Beyond It’s Normal Capacity.

  1. Ben, I did not see a comment for Dawn (Dawn Tenebruso says:

    June 20, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Would this device be beneficial for patients with early onset of ALS or Parkinson’s, and would it delay how fast these diseases progress? Your guest explained another device another device that was made to prevent for seizures, which is amazing. I was just wondering if this device would be appropriate for those diseases bc of the affect they have on motor system.)

    Also, you mentioned another question about enzymes and complex carbs. I’d like to know if enzymes are good for those with osteoarthritis. Is osteoarthritis reverseable and do enzymes reduce the symptoms at all? If so, what enyzme product do you recommend?

  2. Would this device be beneficial for patients with early onset of ALS or Parkinson’s, and would it delay how fast these diseases progress? Your guest explained another device another device that was made to prevent for seizures, which is amazing. I was just wondering if this device would be appropriate for those diseases bc of the affect they have on motor system.

  3. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is”. The word you want in your title is the possessive pronoun “its”, with no apostrophe.

    I’ve gotten used to this mistake, but there are still those who will think you’re ignorant, and blow off everything else you say.

    Delete this comment if it pleases you.

  4. Hi Ben – would this be effective for someone in their 40s who’s not looking to compete but is looking to get some of the intensity back into their workouts again that’s been lost due to normal aging and as you mentioned in the show..to counteract both general and cognitive fatigue that occurs at the end of repeated long work days over? Or is that beyond the product design capability? Thanks!

  5. FYI, there was an article that came out yesterday on the use of the Halo Sport by the Navy SEALs. Not a huge amount of information in the article, but it’s an interesting datapoint.

    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/04/02/sup…

    Wingeier said the number of Halo devices being used by elite units for testing is “in the double digits,” adding they are being tested at five military installations. Even compared with the athletes the company has previously worked with, he said the focus and determination of SEALs is impressive.

  6. Has anyone tried this for carpentry work? I rehab buildings and wonder if this would help teach carpentry, plumbing, and other such skills. Thoughts?

  7. Hi Ben. Just ordered one for myself. What types of sports/workout training have you tried this on? I do mostly American Ninja warrior training ( hoping to be on the show this season) and think it might be perfect. Also what about rock climbing?

      1. So obstacle training might work very well. Getting it today. Hoping to hit my 10 foot lache ( fingers touch the bar, so close )

  8. Hi Ben-

    I purchased the Halo for my son who plays college baseball. We live in the los Angeles area and drive a lot. Is it safe and effective if he wears the Halo while he is driving to practice or workouts??

    Grateful,

    Margaret

    1. I see no issues with that. But I am not a doctor and this is not to be taken, interpreted or construed as medical advice. Please talk with a licensed medical professional about this. These are just my own personal thoughts and not a prescription or a diagnosis or any form of health care whatsoever.

  9. Thanks Ben for another outstanding podcast. The $120 discount was a significant factor in my decision to purchase this product.

    I have a question. During the podcast, Dr. Chao stated that while the product assists in learning complex athletic movements, including hand and finger dexterity, it was designed specifically to improve athletic performance. However, he appeared to imply that his company is working on a product using tDCS directed more to improving general cognitive skills (ability?). If someone from Halo Neuroscience is monitoring this board, can they confirm whether they are working on such a product, or is that something they do not want to – or can’t – discuss?

  10. I feel almost too old to be caring about this but, could this device make it possible for 29+yo guys to actually have a chance in the eSports scene?

  11. Hi, looks very exciting. Would it be of use to speed up injury rehabilitation, I.e. Improve motor patterns and proprioception.

    Thanks very much.

    1. Hi Nigel, Unfortunately Halo Sport is not a medical and therefore can’t be used to treat any medical conditions or injuries. However, once you are medically cleared by your doctor Halo Sport can be used to help train and build motor patterns as part of a normal physical training routine.

  12. I love your podcast and was fascinated by this one. I’m a scientist at the NIH and brain imaging specialist (my speciality is fMRI but I work with tDCS). Typically with tDCS there is an anode and cathode – determining which direction the current flows. The area under cathode has increased neuronal excitability and the area under the anode has decreased neuronal excitability. The way this appears to be configured is that one side (left or right motor cortex – that controls muscles on the opposite side of the body) will be excited and the other suppressed. This seems suboptimal for bilateral improvement. Any chance you could address what the anode/cathode configuration of this is as it’s pretty critical. In tDCS, simply switching the location of anode and cathode will completely alter the results. Is this somehow configured to have cathodes on both sides? If so, where is the anode?

    1. Hi Peter – chiming in from Halo here. Great question. As you know, the anode = excitatory, cathode = inhibitory concept sprang from all the basic work from Goettingen and elsewhere using tDCS to facilitate motor evoked potentials. When used as a neuroplasticity tool to accelerate training, however, there is some evidence and a mounting sense in the field that polarity may be less important – after all, synaptic plasticity occurs in both inhibitory interneurons and excitatory pyramidal cells, and optimization of both populations is relevant to movement. That said, based on the usual somatotopic mapping, for a full-body or lower-body / core / arms workout Halo Sport places the anode at the top of the head (Cz) and splits the cathode between C3 and C4. For specialized hands-and-fingers training, a C3-C4 montage is used, and either polarity is available.

      1. Thanks! I realize I had the anode/cathode – inhibitory/excitatory effects reversed in my question. This is really helpful! I was not aware that – at least for plasticity – polarity may be less important. Also, thanks for the configuration details!..very tempted to purchase this for personal use and/or my fMRI research (exploring fMRI magnitude and functional connectivity) as it’s the cleanest and easiest tDCS setup that I’ve seen for targeting motor function.

  13. speaking about the brain…i’m sure looking forward to an update on the EEG/ Dr Hill

    protocol. I say this because I’m seriously considering doing it. However, 8 grand is a lot of money to waist, and practically nothing if it works well. Please do tell.

    THANK YOU

  14. Hi Ben,

    I went through your new Daily Routines eBook and I found it to not be up to date to your daily routine you discussed in one of the recent Q&A’s.

    In that Q&A, you talked about a few things that are different to what is in the book? Is this true, or is the routine you describe in the Daily Routines book really what you’re doing right now, these days?

    Thanks!

      1. For example:

        – in a podcast you mentioned waking up at 6:00 every day, in the book it’s 6:30

        – in a podcast you mentioned you’re taking your creatine with your morning smoothie for best absorption, in the book you you take it with the first glass of water and other supplements in the morning

        – you once mentioned you don’t take colostrum every day of the year because of IGF-1 issues, in the book you mention you do.

        Those are just a few examples and it doesn’t really matter but I was just curious as to what your actual current routine looks like.

        Also, what are your thoughts on digestive enzymes, in terms of people saying that consistently taking them reduces your own production? A good example would be Dr. John Douillard.

        Thanks!

        1. Yes, habits do change from time to time but between this and the podcast I would hope you have enough info to make your body and brain better. I do indeed like digestive enzymes before COMPLEX meals, but not simple ones…

  15. I am curious what transcranial direct stimulation would have in common with transcranial magnetic stimulation. From the interview and looking at other resources, it seems the TCD focus primarily on neuro muscular applications while TMS is used more for mental therapy applications such as the treatment of depression. For TCD, would this be akin to helping to facilitate muscle memory development?

    1. Halo co-founder chiming in here – good question! Aside from the fact that TMS uses magnetism and tDCS uses electrical currents, the primary difference is that TMS directly makes neurons fire, while tDCS makes neurons (1) fire more easily while participating in their normal activity, and (2) more likely to fire together when they do. It’s like a rising tide for the brain. This is why tDCS is effective in interacting with training and accelerating results. And yes, it’s “muscle memory” – which, as you know, is all about the brain.

  16. The code appears to be BENGREENFIELD10 not BEN10 above. Also it was only 10% off ($74.90) instead of $120. Is that an error or the correct discount?

        1. Here's a response from the team: The six-month payment plan is available through PayPal credit.. it will be an option for you. You can also contact our support team directly: [email protected]

  17. Ben, any studies on the benefits of tDCS and endurance sports?

    I assume that if the motor cortex is primed, then the body will run more efficiently–more output (pace) for the same work load (heart rate). And during the 60 minutes of primed time, you are theoretically training your brain to handle the higher pace.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this topic.

      1. Thanks!

        “…experiments demonstrated that ANODAL tDCS stimulation improves constant cycling performance. Moreover, the increased excitability of the motor cortex might facilitate the central command required and consequently reduced the perception of effort during exercise. These findings further demonstrate that the motor cortex plays an important role in the generation of perception of effort.”

        Angius, L. et al. (2016). Transcranial direct current stimulation improves cycling performance in healthy individuals. in: Physiology 2016.

  18. My son is 12 years old. He plays basketball and we shoot and play 1 on 1 a few times a week. Would this device be safe for a kid that age?

    1. John, I have to clarify. I just double-checked and it’s not intended for kids under 18 – especially not younger kids like yours, since all the data is from testing in adults and a 12-year-old’s brain is already super-flexible.

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