The next hot PED? How about electrical currents to the brain?

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This is fun. And by “fun” I mean it has all of the makings of a hilarious ethical battle in professional sports at some point.

It’s from Outside Magazine, and describes a new technique that could dramatically enhance athletic performance. It’s called transcranial direct current stimulation, and it’s basically giving your brain a little shock in an effort to bypass the central regulator which most researchers believe we all have. Once that central regulator is down, your brain won’t shut your body down when you’re fatigued. You’ll just keep going.

Here’s how it works:

tDCS is disarmingly—almost disturbingly—simple: you connect a voltage source (a 9-volt battery will do) to two electrodes placed on opposite sides of your head. The precise placement of the electrodes determines which regions of your brain the current flows through. As it passes, the current changes the excitability of the neurons in the affected region, making them slightly easier to trigger (or harder, depending on which direction the current flows). Edwards and Putrino’s primary interest in tDCS is to help patients recover from brain and spinal cord injuries—but “rehab and high-intensity training are not as different as people believe,” Putrino says. “Whether you’re a high-end athlete or a patient fighting locked-in syndrome, you’re dealing with the same limitations of muscle fatigue.”

 

The ethical part of all of this will be fun. As the article notes, it tDCS doesn’t give you more power or performance, really. It just unlocks what you’re capable of doing already, breaking down a barrier. Much in the same way a good trainer can train you to fight through pain and fatigue to get that extra bit of oomph. But because it’s new and weird, I assume people will fall into the old PED arguments rather than actually look at the science of it all and see if it works and what the pros and cons are.

(thanks to Will Carroll for the heads up)

Noah Syndergaard to disabled list due to hand, foot, and mouth disease

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MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports that Mets starter Noah Syndergaard will be placed on the 10-day disabled list because he contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease. The ailment is more common in children than adults and is caused by Coxsackievirus A16 or Enterovirus 71. According to James Wagner of the New York Times, it is believed that Syndergaard picked up hand, foot, and mouth disease working at a youth camp during the All-Star break.

Syndergaard, 25, started on Friday. He pitched well but lasted only five innings, throwing 84 pitches, because he had diminished velocity and felt tired. He yielded a run on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts. It was his second start since returning from a DL stint (strained ligament in right index finger) that kept him out between May 26 and July 12.

The Mets expect Syndergaard to need only the minimum 10 days to recover. Corey Oswalt will temporarily take Syndergaard’s spot in the rotation.

In 13 starts this season, Syndergaard owns a 2.89 ERA with 83 strikeouts and 15 walks in 74 2/3 innings.