Brain training, reaction improvements and positive thinking apps all claim to help us by giving our little grey cells a workout in some way. But is it really worth poking around in there?
Whilst something like the DreamScience Brainwave-Oriented Sleep Companion claims to work using sounds that gently lull our brainwaves into the right "mode", the question is, what is the advantage in training our brains to be other than they are? And what effect might it have in the long run?
Luckily, the DreamScience companion doesn't use anything invasive. Instead, sounds that activate certain types of brainwaves called Delta waves- those found in the deepest levels of relaxation- are played over this alarm/audio player to lull the user gently to sleep and make them feel more relaxed.
Whilst the same could be said for listening to some compositions by Mozart amongst other composers, reasons of relaxation aren't the only excuse to invasively meddle in your medullas.
Take the Foc.us/ V2 Gamer for example, an electrode-based headset device meant to stimulate your brain to improve its reactions over time. Anything used by DARPA to train drone-flyers sounds pretty cool to us. So when we were sent a sample to review we got quite excited.
Out of Focus
Only there's just one problem. With a lengthy warning listing all the health reasons why you shouldn't use it, how you should limit yourself to a session once every 48 hours, and strict instructions on correct placement, we couldn't actually find a willing guinea pig to try it.
This doesn't bode well for the startup hoping to angle their tech to a pro-gamer circuit. But perhaps pro gamers are more willing to push the boundaries of safety to reach the next level as we've seen in the recent controversy about doping in eSports - Ritalin being the drug of choice for top earners that give them a sped-up edge to performance. That's not exactly a safe option either.
Suffice it to say, without longer-term studies in effects of brain training and insight into how temporary the physical changes that are created are, it's a risky business keeping your head in the game.
Let us know in the comments below if you've tried any of the brain-augmenting technology with any success.