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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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7.1 Exploring further

Here you will spend a few more minutes looking further into innovation 14.

Activity 6 Michael Johnson visits Halo Neuroscience

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

In this video, Michael Johnson hears from Daniel Chao, the founder of Halo Neuroscience. How does the video expand your understanding of the claims made about this innovation? Can you detect any opinion that Michael has about this innovation?

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Michael Johnson meets Daniel Chao
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The film suggests that it is electrical pulses that are aimed at specific parts of the motor cortex that are responsible for movement in the targeted part of the body; in the case of the film it was the legs. The claim is that the device ‘supercharges the pathways between the muscles and the brain’ and this stimulates learning to be more efficient resulting in improved athlete output for the same level of effort. The participant on the treadmill, Ryan, describes the feeling of a ‘slight tingling’ sensation in the head.

Johnson does not give a great deal away about what he really thinks about the potential of this innovation, but it is noticeable that he does not have a trial of using the device. There perhaps remain unresolved questions about how it operates and precisely what mechanisms explain this heightened learning; there is also the question of the impact of these devices with sustained use.

If you visit the Halo Neuroscience [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website, the details of the electrical pulses are explained under Frequently Asked Questions, as are questions about user safety.

One of the best independent summaries of the evidence and ethics of this innovation is provided by a short readable article Brain stimulation in sport: is it fair? Your conclusion from evaluating this innovation may, like Johnson, be slightly circumspect. However, this example does illustrate how you should be cautious in what you interpret from online sources, while also recognising that sport, coaching and exercise could look very different in the years ahead.