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Catholic Memorial Students Use Headbands To Harness Brainpower

BOSTON (CBS) - Young people are bombarded with more information and distractions than ever before. But what if schools could use kids' love of technology to teach them how to harness their brainpower?

A Somerville company is doing that at Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury, where the kids say it's helped them learn how and when to focus.

Boys in a robotics class at Catholic Memorial weren't just playing games when WBZ visited, they were learning to train their brains using special headbands.

"We use this with F-1 drivers, we use this with Olympic athletes to help train them how to control their mind better," said Max Newlon, President of BrainCo.

BrainCo headset
Catholic Memorial students wearing BrainCo headsets (WBZ-TV)

Sensors on the headbands, made by BrainCo, detect electrical brain signals and change the light from yellow, general awareness, to red when the brain is in a highly active state, showing students they can learn to concentrate.

"In kids with attention issues, actually those issues start to reduce," Newlon said.

Students can get a better understanding by watching a graph and watching the color change during class that shows them how their brain focuses best. Thousands of people are using the headbands around the world.

"I think it's kind of a cool experiment to kind of see how to train my brain," said CM freshman Kole Swift.

BrainCo headset
Catholic Memorial students wearing BrainCo headsets (WBZ-TV)

And teachers get a visual clue when they're losing their students' attention.

"For the boys to control their minds and get in to one of those two states when appropriate is incredibly good for a teenage boy to be able to self-control," said teacher Patrick Murray.

In a way it's data-driven teaching.

"It's giving you something quantifiable that you can point to instead of a more qualitative 'I think' response for a teacher," said CM Assistant Headmaster Brian Palm.

Each headset is $399. The next use for the technology is helping to maneuver a prosthetic hands.

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