Brain-boosting startups sell heftily priced headgear despite suspect science

The vast majority of neurotech startups that sell expensive headgear lack science to back up their claims.

Ask your grandpa: Back in the day, people had to make their own tinfoil hats to protect their brainwaves.

Brain-boosting startups sell heftily priced headgear despite suspect science

But today, things are different: 41 products now sell futuristic headgear claiming to do everything from curbing appetite to improving memory to treating addiction, Axios reports.

But one fact remains the same: These flashy new silicon headcases are backed up by as little science as their aluminum ancestors.

Tinfoil hats, but more expensive

One device, the Modius, sells for $499 and claims to help people lose weight by “gently stimulating” the brain to curb appetite.

The Modius and other pieces of brain-gear — most of which range in price from $100 to $200 — stake their medical claims mostly on internal research and customer testimonials, not peer-reviewed research.

Of the 41 brain-gear products, only 33 supplied any research at all, and only 8 referred to peer-reviewed, non-internal research.

But these device may not only be ineffective…

They may also be downright damaging. 

Transcranial direct current stimulation — one of the types of brain-buzzing commonly used in headsets — can also cause skin burns and headaches.

But since customers are willing to pay for these products, these startups are raising headache-inducing amounts of cash ($100m, in some cases) to sell their brain-boosters before regulators catch up.

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