U.S. Air Force finds electric pulses to the brain an effective technique for keeping soldiers on task
In a report reminiscent of science fiction, U.S. Air Force scientists said this week that sending electric pulses to soldier’s brains is an effective technique to improve attention span and cognitive ability.
The as-yet unregulated technology may be used on drone operators, whose role in the United States’ secret assassination program leaves them with some of the military’s highest rates of burn-out. In 2015, so many operators quit that the U.S. Air Force was forced to curtail its number of drone flights.
While the U.S. military has been using pharmaceutical stimulants such as modafinil (Provigil) and methylphenidate (Ritalin) to enhance drone operators’ performance, “the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have found that Ritalin [is] as addictive as cocaine, and [that] modafinil can permanently damage sleep patterns, as [it] is also very addictive,” reports the International Business Times.
The military hopes that electronically zapping soldiers’ brains will be a safer alternative.
“But while electrical brain stimulation appears to have no harmful side effects, some experts say its long-term safety is unknown, and raise concerns about staff being forced to use the equipment if it is approved for military operations,” the Guardian writes. “Others are worried about the broader implications of the science on the general workforce because of the advance of an unregulated technology.”