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New gaming headset zaps your brain with electricity

"Make your synapses fire faster"

US company Foc.us Labs has developed a headset designed to fire electricity into the brain's frontal lobe, in order to improve focus when gaming.

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The headset's four electrodes deploy transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), similar to a technique used in treating depression. This, according to Foc.us, will "overclock your brain", "increase the plasticity of your brain," and "make your synapses fire faster." Current is applied through an iPhone app that allows the user to control the strength and duration of each session.

According to a report on The Sydney Morning Herald, Foc.us has said the headset is not a medical device, and it is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. It claims the device meets regulated safety standards, but epilepsy sufferers, those with implants and people under 18, should avoid using the headset.

Professor Colleen Loo, from the University of NSW school of psychiatry, told SMH that the effect on the brain depended on where and how the electrodes were positioned, but since the headset is of the do-it-yourself variety, it is "potentially quite dangerous."

"It's a bit like having an accelerator and brake in a car," says Loo. "Neither is bad and both are very useful, but applying them judiciously at the right time and in the right context is absolutely essential."

The Foc.us headset is available online only for US$249, and orders have started shipping this month.

The side effects of using the headset, and its long-term impact on brain function, remains unknown.

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