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DHS trials musical brainscan wellness tech on US firemen

'Federal agents' to get Russian bonce-sonata boost, too

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has unveiled plans to enhance the performance of firemen and federal agents by playing them special music synthesized from their own brain waves.

"Every brain has a soundtrack," note the DHS Science & Technology people. "When that soundtrack is recorded and played back - to an emergency responder, or a firefighter - it may sharpen their reflexes during a crisis, and calm their nerves afterward ... the influence of music on emotional well-being has emerged as a hot field of scientific study."

The DHS "Brain Music" programme uses a version of the "Brain Music Therapy" technology provided by Virginia-based firm Human Bionics LLC. This works by measuring a subject's brain signatures using an electroencephalogram and turning them into synthesized piano music - either a stress-reducing relaxation track, or an alertness-boosting one "for improved concentration and decision-making". These tend to sound like Chopin and Mozart respectively, according to Robert Burns, brain-tunes programme chief at the DHS.

"Strain comes with an emergency response job, so we are interested in finding ways to help these workers remain at the top of their game when working and get quality rest when they go off a shift," adds Burns. "Our goal is to find new ways to help first responders perform at the highest level possible."

The bonce-sonata kit "is derived from patented technology developed at Moscow University to use brain waves as a feedback mechanism to correct physiological conditions", it says here. It will form part of the DHS Readiness Optimization Program, in which "nutrition, education and neurotraining" will be used to boost the operational performance of American police, firefighters and "federal agents". However, the first guinea pigs will be "a selected group of local area firefighters".

The DHS has helpfully supplied an example bit of biofeedback mind-music, which you can download here.

In addition to their Russian twitch-suppressing brainwave feedback CDs, it seems plausible that US federal operatives will also soon be issued with special floppy pocketwatches. ®

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