It's often the case that a device or substance with a known benefit also comes with known risks--typically referred to as side effects and listed quickly at the ends of commercials. So it seems worth noting when a product's side effect may in fact be useful.
The Valkee, a portable headset launched in August of 2010, directs 8- to 12-minute doses of bright light through the ear canal and into the brain to improve seasonal affective disorder. It turns out that this concentration of bright light into the brain may also improve motoric reaction time, according to a study conducted by Verve Research in Finland.
The placebo-controlled study (meaning some were given the treatment and others a placebo in its place) tested the effects of the Valkee headset on Finnish national league ice hockey players and found that those exposed to 12 minutes of light via the headset sped up their already fast reaction times by 20 percent.
"The placebo-controlled study showed a significant improvement in motoric reaction times of top athletes using bright light via the ear canal," says lead researcher Mikko Tulppo in a news release.… Read more