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Feb 15, 2017

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 "'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 at and one of us will reply!