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Military studying a shocking substitute for caffeine

In a new experiment, the U.S. military is shocking the brains of troops to see if electricity is a decent substitute for coffee and energy drinks, the Boston Globe is reporting.

Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, have run tests on a number of volunteers to test their mental acuity both before and after a stimulating jolt of electricity, the Globe report said.

The electric shock creates within a mini-seizure in the brain and is based on techniques that are currently being used by medical professionals to treat major depression and other mental disorders, according to the report.

So far, the results have been positive. The researchers say the jolt works wonders to improve general alertness in sleepy soldiers, with few side effects. Well, except the brief headaches and minor skin irritation.

“There is some evidence that it does seem to work,” Dr. William “Scott” Killgore, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School who specializes in the mental health treatments to the Globe. “There have been a few studies that if you use it in the right place it can help mathematical calculations when people are sleep-deprived.”

Besides treating sleep-deprivation and lack of focus, the program aims at making soldiers better thinkers. Researchers believe electrodes will become standard issue for “some” military personnel, according to the Globe report.

The long term effects of repeatedly shocking the brain are still being studied, the report said.

news@stripes.com

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