Shock the Brain vs. Coffee? Pentagon Studies Ways to Keep Soldiers Sharp

Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014 07:55 AM

By Elliot Jager

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
The Pentagon is exploring ways to keep digital warriors alert using electrical stimulation of the brain in place of coffee,  The Boston Globe reported.

The idea is to find a better alternative to coffee and energy drinks that would improve the attentiveness of sleep-deprived troops. A 2011 report said that one third of digital warriors operating cameras on attack drones suffered from exhaustion, USA Today reported.

R. Andy McKinley, a biomedical engineer managing the experiments, said, "We are beyond the proof-of-concept phase. We are working on something that would be easy to apply that you could potentially field," according to the Globe.

Preliminary results show the approach may improve sharpness in thinking, as well as alertness, with subjects reported to feel refreshed at the end of the test period.

"I wasn't sure what to expect," said Staff Sgt. William Raybon. Despite being sleep-deprived, Raybon said he felt "refreshed" when the treatment was over.

Digital soldiers monitor many screens and need to process multiple sources of data simultaneously. Even those tasked with making battlefield decisions employing drone footage are not eligible to receive prescription drugs.

Several separate Pentagon studies are under way to stimulate the brain using very low levels of electricity on volunteers. These efforts reflect one of the most comprehensive examinations of electric stimulation on healthy individuals, according to the Globe.

In one approach, a magnetic field passes electrical current into the brain. A second technique sends one milliampere for 10 minutes directly into the brain.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Alan Shaffer said future battles will be decided on the basis of which side can "process information most quickly and react to that. If you can't make sense of all the information coming in around you, and get to a decision, it has little value."

McKinley said that many questions still had to be answered regarding long-term effects of the electricity.

The multiple studies under way are being conducted by the Air Force, Army, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and together have cost about $1 million.

Related Stories

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Methane on Mars Spikes Frequently, but Source Unknown

Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 13:54 PM

Methane, a gas that on Earth comes mainly from living organisms, spikes regularly on Mars but scientists have not been a . . .

Humanoid Robot Flies Across Atlantic, in Economy Style

Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 08:09 AM

A humanoid-looking robot named Athena that scientists hope will one day be useful in aiding at disaster sites, like the  . . .

NASA Builds $349M Tower, Then Promptly Mothballs It

Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 07:28 AM

A massive $349 million NASA tower completed in June has been "mothballed" in Gulfport, Mississippi, without ever being u . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved