Forget Edibles: Getting High on Wearables | WBEZ
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Note to Self

Forget Edibles: Getting High on Wearables

If you could, would you boost that mushy thing inside your head? Seems like a no-brainer. (Get it?)

Two weeks ago, Note to Self launched a potentially endless line of questioning about improving our bodies and lives with tech. We started with health trackers and the double-edged sword that is quantifying everything. But while there are a lot of tools out there that claim to train your brain, there are some now that their developers say will change it.

That's right, Manoush plays lab rat just for you (and also to find out what happens when you combine a little bit of neuroscience with digital gadgetry). Warning: parts of this episode get weird. Like, didn't-we-leave-these-days-behind-in-college weird. But in a good way, we promise.


People use tons of methods to stimulate and relax their brains. Yes, coffee counts, and so does a glass of wine or prescription drugs. There are also meditation apps and biofeedback devices.

But what happens when such stimulants are considered "technology," with all the funding and testing and marketing that entails? Maybe you’ve heard about the military testing trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to increase target accuracy and focus. Or maybe you know someone who experiments with 9-volt batteries at home. Yes, people do this — including our friends at Radiolab who did a fun episode about this a little while back.

But Thync, the gadget that Manoush uses in this week's episode, could be the first time tDCS goes mainstream (here's the study we referenced in the podcast). It's a little headset that wraps around your ear, and then you stick a white, potato chip-looking-thing to your forehead. You can buy it on Amazon right now. 

Still, even though you theoretically could buy a Thync for yourself, there is an important question to be asked: should you? Come on, this thing is strapped to your head—we've seen enough science fiction movies to know that can be a horrible idea.


The FDA isn't testing these things because they're technically considered "lifestyle products," but we got a medical assessment just to be safe. He said, sure, the brain is complex, and the device's methods are pretty crude, but there's no scientific evidence to suggest that something like Thync could have long-term adverse effects.

The real question here: Could your longstanding date night with that tall glass of Cabernet be over?


On this week's episode, you'll meet Isy Goldwasser, the co-founder and Chief Thyncing Officer of Thync. You'll also hear from Roy Hamilton, who directs the lab for cognition and neural stimulation at the University of Pennsylvania. And, as always, you'll get the scoop from Manoush, who has some really special reactions to Thync's technology.

LISTEN: We try to boost our brains using wearable technology. Things get weird.

— Note to Self (@NoteToSelf) March 29, 2016

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