Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation being used by the MLB Giants -Why the San Francisco Giants Are Wearing Weird Headphones

The San Francisco Giants may be wearing headphones while they train, but they’re not listening to music. They are getting their brains “stimulated” to improve their batting, pitching, and catching.

The headphones are a new tool used by the Giants in hopes of enhancing player performance across the board. The team’s deal with the device’s maker, Halo Neuroscicnce, is the first public pact with a Major Baseball League team and a sign of how sci-fi technology is making inroads into pro sports.

The Giant’s use of the headphones, announced by Halo on Wednesday, comes just days before the start of the baseball season. The technology makes up an important part of the team’s training process, the startup said, along with the usual stretching, running, and weight lifting.

The theory is that low-level electric pulses, known as transcranial direct current stimulation, from the headphones stimulate a part of the brain known as the motor cortex, Halo Neuroscience CEO Daniel Chao told Fortune last year, long before the deal with the Giants was announced. That stimulation combined with physical training, can boost an athlete’s strength, “explosiveness,” and skill, he said at that time.

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Image: REUTERS/Chris Helgren
Image: REUTERS/Chris Helgren

“Another route to improving brain function might be neurofeedback. In a typical neurofeedback session a person sees a representation of their brain activity on a screen, and learns to raise or lower this activity through training. Neurofeedback has been used to alter the ratio of lower-frequency theta waves to higher-frequency beta waves in treating ADHD.”

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