Before I started the near infrared routine (~5 minutes every other day), 5-6 hours of coding per day was all I could do - eg after coding for 8h, I noticed serious cognitive and emotional decline, and might need to do less the following day. Not anymore - nowadays I can be productive whenever I’m awake, with little side effects. Near infrared radiation is safe (thousands of studies demonstrated only very mild side effects), and is even used to treat Alzheimer’s. I have no idea why its beneficial effects are not more widely known - for some people, it’s life changing.
Sidenote: 850nm light works way better for me than 830nm.
Transcranial infrared laser stimulation is a new non‐invasive form of low‐level light therapy that may have a wide range of neuropsychological applications. It entails using low‐power and high‐energy‐density infrared light from lasers to increase metabolic energy. Preclinical work showed that this intervention can increase cortical metabolic energy, thereby improving frontal cortex‐based memory function in rats. Barrett and Gonzalez‐Lima (2013, Neuroscience, 230, 13) discovered that transcranial laser stimulation can enhance sustained attention and short‐term memory in humans. We extend this line of work to executive function. Specifically, we ask whether transcranial laser stimulation enhances performance in the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task that is considered the gold standard of executive function and is compromised in normal ageing and a number of neuropsychological disorders. We used a laser of a specific wavelength (1,064 nm) that photostimulates cytochrome oxidase – the enzyme catalysing oxygen consumption for metabolic energy production. Increased cytochrome oxidase activity is considered the primary mechanism of action of this intervention. Participants who received laser treatment made fewer errors and showed improved set‐shifting ability relative to placebo controls. These results suggest that transcranial laser stimulation improves executive function and may have exciting potential for treating or preventing deficits resulting from neuropsychological disorders or normal ageing.
Humans evolved while being baked in the sun, it'd be surprising if eliminating sunlight almost completely didn't come with some downsides.
Over a period of 20 years, you will double your risk of dying if you avoid sun exposure.
eg, This study used an array of 500mW LEDs and a 10 minute exposure to achieve 13 J/cm^2.
Actually light passes through skin rather easily. You can test this by putting a flashlight up to your hand. Light even acts as a catalyst for nutrients in your body according to some recent studies:
I'm usually convinced there are a ton of really smart people on HN... much smarter than myself. Yet, this thread is one of those few times where I'm found doubting.
Either I am just totally missing the facts here, or yea... there's some wild placebo + self convincing going on.
Then post pictures of yourself holding a remote to your head so that you can help educate others about your medical breakthrough.
Then use the WiFi on it and make it controllable through Alexa. Hands free operation!
You might want to check out 1064nm laser stimulation as well (instead?), based on the research done in "Transcranial laser stimulation improves human cerebral oxygenation".
0 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066697/
This method seems to help your brain work more because it increases its metabolism but that might also cause your brain to age faster right?
The harder you work something, the faster you wear it down.
Is my logic flawed or am I missing something? Just curious.
Here is a study where near infrared light actually increased lifespan for fruit flies:
Ageing is an irreversible cellular decline partly driven by failing mitochondrial integrity. Mitochondria accumulate DNA mutations and reduce ATP production necessary for cellular metabolism. This is associated with inflammation. Near-infrared exposure increases retinal ATP in old mice via cytochrome c oxidase absorption and reduces inflammation. Here, we expose fruitflies daily to 670 nm radiation, revealing elevated ATP and reduced inflammation with age. Critically, there was a significant increase in average lifespan: 100–175% more flies survived into old age following 670 nm exposure and these had significantly improved mobility. This may be a simple route to extending lifespan and improving function in old age.
Perhaps some people have abnormally SLOW brain aging / metabolism. This would be a way for them to get back to normal?
I'm curious to try it, so far I mostly see positive responses from those who have but I am yet to invest more time into researching it.
Old USENET folks will remember having to say "Trkey" and "Kbo" to avoid certain people finding the thread. I think on Hacker News, we will need to say "R*st"
Either it's entirely the placebo effect, or it somehow actually does something and you're cooking your brain to wage slave even harder
They are describing a personal experience so that others may research it further should they choose to.
I agree they haven't shared any objective evidence to add credibility to their claims, but our response should be to ask for more evidence, not to mock and sneer.
"cooking your brain to wage slave even harder"
Not just mean, but wrong; as another commenter pointed out, they seem to be self-employed, and for all we know, could have a serious reason (e.g., financial challenges, important work) why it matters a lot to be highly productive, at least occasionally (note they literally wrote "It’s not something I really want to do, but sometimes it’s useful”).
For what it's worth, here's an article from 2014 that examines research into this kind of practice and finds evidence for its efficacy .
Other studies have found evidence that transcranial infrared energy may be beneficial for cognition  or illnesses such as Alzheimer's  and MS .
That said, it's not the kind of thing I would try, at least not regularly, as I take the view that artificial interventions like this likely carry some kind of side-effect or cost that renders negative or at-best neutral over the long-term (I feel the same way about pharmaceuticals and stimulants like caffeine).
But I have used infrared light in other ways to address issues like muscle tension and inflammation, which is common and often recommended by mainstream doctors.
But please, keep comments like this off HN. It's meant to be a place for curiosity and respectful discourse. The derision and contempt you displayed has no place here.
Since you mentioned wage slaving - I chose coding performance as an example, but I could also have mentioned improved guitar playing skills. Or being a better listener. On average, I don't code that much more now, maybe 6h per day (as a freelancer, there's also lots of other things to do).
"This one simple trick..."
Keep the personal attacks off here. There is no need for this.
Don't listen to these bums, there are much more people that agree with you. Its just that butt-hurt is a greater comment motivator than agreement.
The Flynn effect says we're gaining an avg of 3 IQ pts every decade since the early 20th century. Meaning our great grandparents, on average, would be considered mentally handicapped compared to today's intellect.
Now certain biochemical explanations for the Flynn effect explain raw neurophysiological gains (e.g., iodine fortification in the early 20th century added 5 pts).
So my question: for whatever isn't explained by biochemical enhancement, is there an equal cognitive tradeoff in something less measurable than IQ?
I.e., do our brains act like muscle and the info age as a super gym? Or are we becoming "mentally impaired" compared to our great grandparents in other aspects (e.g., working with our hands, building communities, etc)?
I imagine our neuro-plastic brains try to make use of all of its real-estate. If so, then could it just be that we're growing in measurable ways, and becoming "mentally impaired" in non-measurable ways?
Sounds Ludditic, maybe an expert can weigh in
200 years ago, just about everything was custom, bespoke. A carpenter would look for a piece of wood that was best for solving the problem at hand, that bit of warp was perfect for making a barrel stave.
Work now, of all kinds, is more about minimum thresholds. classify objects or problems, and use standard approaches. Just about any piece of wood is fine, because we have power tools and standardized fasteners.
We've shifted from local optimization to identifying minimum requirements. A shift away from arbitrary wood blocks, to high-tolerance, highly consistent lego blocks.
Anyway, i think the flynn effect is mostly about reshaping the world to value a little bit more abstraction over local optimization, and we teach people how to operate in the consistent world rather than the bespoke world.
Anyway, our great grandparents weren't dumb. Their minds were focused around a time when everything was precious, scarce and unique. They had to focus on what makes X special, and how can i use that unusual feature the best way possible? Now, we have lots of stuff that's plentiful and consistent. How do we systemize around that?
I mean, to a very large extent, a keyboard is a keyboard. we can have passionate arguments about mechanical keys vs rubber dome, but there's like a handful options, and at the end of the day any of them will let you type and be reasonably productive. But our great grandparents, they likely considered what's special about every object they interacted with.
That's not to say i don't think about, say, dishes. But if i break a dish, i'll just go buy another one. Our great grandparents probably thought a lot more deeply, and worried more about everyday objects, just because they were so much more expensive. They needed that local optimization. For, like, everything.
Like, every product you buy has a million factors that affects its quality, and at best, you can test, directly or by proxy a very few. So, it used to be that you could assume that the quality was representative. But increasingly, it's possible to optimize precisely the characteristics consumers (or regulators or reviewers) look at while making everything they don't crap.
Capitalism seemed to work so well for a while because businesses inadvertently provided more quality than economically optimal, but better data processing is changing that and I think it will force an evolution in what sort of intellect thrives in the society of the near future.
I don't disagree that the transition you describe happened, but we're in the middle of a new one in my opinion.
Hence why a Roman infrastructure is still used in the UK to this day.
While, it's not necessarily info age / distraction age centric, I suggest checking out the book "Your Brain at Work" by David Rock.
According to Flynn's later work, this gain might be explained by:
> The Dutch data proved the existence of unknown environmental factors so potent that they account for 15 of the 20 points gained. The hypothesis that best fits the results is that IQ tests do not measure intelligence but rather a correlate with a weak causal link to intelligence. This hypothesis can also explain difficult trends on various mental tests, such as the combination of IQ gains and Scholastic Aptitude Test losses in the United States.
> do our brains act like muscle and the info age as a super gym?
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "age as a super gym", but cognitive functions can be increased, much like how exercising strengthens the muscles used.
Some research supports earlier introduction to abstract concepts contributes to increased fluid intelligence. Other research posits nutrition might be a contributing factor. It would not be unreasonable to think both contribute to some degree.
As far as "brain hacking" goes, there is research supporting increasing fluid intelligence via far-transfer cognitive training (working memory, set switching, sustained focus, etc.). It also is hypothesized that these cognitive training tasks contribute to near-transfer benefits.
EDIT: corrected cognitive training enumeration.
0 - https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1987-17534-001
Edit: ah excuse me, I misread. I have seen a question about its recent reversal.
So when you look back at our great grandparents, take me for example, I'm part native hawaiian and my great grandparents were literally living in a shack on the beach. Their lives consisted of catching fish and fruit and sugar cane farming I don't even know if they could read before my grandparents started school. So of course their iq is lower. I mean hell you can't even take the iq test if you can't read. So I don't think the brain changes that we have are responsible for our higher iq points. I think it's availability to information, the more you have and contemplate the smarter you'll be. Pretty straight forward I think. Higher nutrients and regularly available food is helpful as well obviously.
Edit: fix auto correct mistake
A random fun hypothesis by Paul Staments (in my own words): that the neocortex in humans evolved the way it did, because hominids have been consuming Psilocybin mushrooms for millions of years (until Christians and Nixon banned them and pushed the rest of the world to follow). In other words: there's symbiosis between hominids and Psilocybin mushrooms. Psilocybin mushrooms as food = more intelligent hominids (after the trip) = higher survival rate of hominids = higher survival rate for the mushroom due to active conservation by hominids.
Fun fact (according to Staments): Psilocybin mushrooms occur in higher concentrations around human settlements than in "wild nature" (still today).
No bible but mere history and tradition. That's where the original 'intent' came from.
>why should anybody care?
You shouldn't. This is just a comment on a certain kind of people that likely won't have any effect on them and that they are free to ignore.
Cool theory though. Do you have some links to dig into it? Also could it have applied to other naturally-occuring psychedelics (salvia divinorum, mescaline cacti, etc.)?
On the other hand, imagine a world where I don't have to make this tradeoff.
Dear HN, this person's got it. Hacker ethic is about finding the hidden ways in things, it's about not letting the world tell you what to do, it's definitely not about playing monkey tricks for money treats. Also, being a hacker is about fun. Fun, interestingly, is like, what happens when you don't have to force/trick/"hack" yourself into doing something. It's pretty great. If you're forgoing it for more volume of code then, maybe consider talking to someone about your goals and fears? Introspection and the ears of well-meaning people can do wonders for productivity, since nothing will let you do things quite like doing the right thing.
Recreational drugs, on the other hand, have ruined millions of people lives. You are being disengenuous to suggest that they have a positive effect to most people.
Finally, no one "intended" drugs to be anything. They are simply tools that humans have discovered. It is ludicrous to suggest that they have specific intention.
>Recreational drugs, on the other hand, have ruined millions of people lives.
Yes all recreational drugs are opiates and physically addictive. People have been overdosing on mushrooms and LSD for decades before the government undertook heroic prohibition efforts. That's definitely what's happened.
>It is ludicrous to suggest that they have specific intention.
The original users did them with a specific intention. That's what is meant by the passive form of 'intended'. Of course I am not forbidding you to enhance your IQ with minute LSD microdosings so that you can perform better at your next hackathon, by all means feel free to change the world.
Just look at the microdosing community.
What kind of mind does it take to do something like that? And is it ok to repurpose drugs for productivity if you channel that energy into solving the worlds problems?
Use your brain regularly on many types of tasks, drink coffee or tea, play video games, exercise, and provide your brain with either proper nutrients or appropriate levels of supplements. Too much or too little supplements will have negative or no effects. Everything else doesn't have enough research and some side effects might not be what you wanted. Not to mention there are placebo effects as well.
If you didn't know that before then go ahead and read it. You might get something from it.
The only remaining question is how fast BCI technology can reach that level. If it takes more than 10-15 years, I think there could certainly be an age of AR devices that we soon find ourselves in, where AR goggles parallel our current smartphones. On the other hand, the rate at which the BCI field is progressing makes me feel like society might just 'skip over' this AR stage all the way to BCI's.
What an odd area of research for Volkswagen to fund.
For specifically improving "cognitive enhancement" the easiest, safest, and most far-reaching technique involves modifying your self-image. You can reprogram yourself to believe that you're smarter and your mind will modify your behaviour to meet your belief. For better or worse one's intelligence level is generally tied into one's self-image, and the only barrier to being smarter is your natural reluctance to become a different person.
For self-image engineering the best books I've found are "Psycho Cybernetics" by Maltz and "With Winning in Mind" by Bassham.
(But really, read "Prometheus Rising" by R. A. Wilson and do the exercises.)
The Master Key system is an interesting read too https://www.amazon.com/Master-Key-System-Charles-Haanel-eboo...
One of important findings in the mentioned book was that blue light (as emitted by computer and smartphone screens) inhibits melatonin excretion and thus have negative impact on the quality of sleep and makes it harder to fall asleep. I replicated author's experiment and haven't used smartphone & computer after 8PM (for about a week) and my sleep quality improved greatly.
Yet there are interventions that clearly create massive net +ve effects, one just has to do experiments which is repeatable and stands the test of time.
Rhetorical Q: Does this IR thingy do that?
So far we can show that intelligent enhancement can be predicated on exercise, outside of that there are temporary drugs (e.g. coffee) that "boost" intelligence but in actuality boost attention.
From Paul Tough's book "how children succeed"
Forget the M&M's. Video games are a skinner box on steroids. Kids are going to learn fast.
Edit: I may have missed the point -- it looks like motivation improves performance, not necessarily actual "cognitive ability", if we can quantify that.
Medications that address such things this may not "improve intelligence", but at the end of the day, if they let someone concentrate and be productive for 18 hours in a day, with no "hangover" the next, or lets them visualize complex protein makeup while altered, with enough retained to write up a scientific paper about said protein when sober, isn't that close enough for the pop-sci definition of "improved intelligence"? What the person is able to do with them, is still better than if they did not. Nootropics and micro-dosing are popular topics for those trying to use medication to improve overall effectiveness, in the quest for the drug that's still science fiction featured in the movie Limitless.
Long answer - https://www.gwern.net/DNB-FAQ
A dangerous game. Good luck to those who dare. Ill always propone meditation and developing attentive discipline.