The science

“It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ, it’s the brain!”

Sir Roger Banister, neurologist.
First person to run the mile under 4min

What differentiates pros from the “common folk” may just be the ability to overcome limits imposed by the brain and tap into the body’s true performance potential.

Scientific studies are now confirming what many high performing athletes have long believed: our brains tend to limit what our bodies are truly capable of, sending signals of exhaustion and fatigue far before the body has reached its true physical limit.


Neurostim conditioning is comprised of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) protocols used by elite athletes from the Olympics to the NBA, as well as pro cycling teams and even the US military.

These protocols apply a mild electric charge directly to the brain, which is noninvasive and safe enough even for young children. It allows specialists to facilitate neural activity in specific areas responsible for controlling a variety of functions.

While there is still a lot scientists have to discover about the underlying mechanisms, decades of international studies have demonstrated that Neurostimulation with tDCS has a unique ability to augment athletic performance.  Among the benefits are:


Increased endurance

Increased propensity to enter “flow-states” (ie. get in zone)

Enhanced strength training through increased uniformity of neural firing

Surpassed limits of maximal exertion

Deepened and prolonged concentration

Improved mood

Facilitation of the “brain-body connection”

Decreased perception of effort both in quantity and intensity of exertion

Improved management of physical and mental fatigue

More thorough and effective recovery from athletic exertion


To understand how these protocols work it’s necessary to understand the workings of the brain. In the brain, neurons have a baseline resting state. Each neuron receives input from other neurons. When this input reaches a designated level or threshold, the neuron in question fires. In order for a neuron to fire, it must receive enough input to cross its designated threshold, as illustrated in the diagrams above.
By applying low frequency electric current to specific regions of the brain, tDCS raises the resting state of neurons in the target region, bringing neurons closer to the point of firing. Resulting in a reduction in the amount of stimulation required for neurons to fire.

The graph to the right depicts the electric potential of neurons firing.  The blue line shows a neuron that has been charged with tDCS, the grey line shows a neuron without tDCS.  The high point of each curve denotes the moment the respective neuron fires.

As can be seen, the blue line has a higher resting level.  This means when input signals arrive, the blue line reaches the firing threshold more readily.

“altering neuron firing rates can lead to cascading effects”

With tDCS, less input is required for neurons to fire, making them fire more readily, at higher rates. Because neurons strengthen their connections based on the rate at which they fire, altering neuron firing rates can lead to cascading effects, enhancing the reinforcement of neural connections and augmenting neural plasticity.
While tDCS can be a powerful aid in Athletic Conditioning The key to benefiting from tDCS is not the device itself, but the way it’s used. There are a wide range of ways tDCS can be used, or even misused. Like any sports conditioning method, the instrument alone will not procure results, a great deal depends on the way the instrument is used and specific protocols implemented by experts in the field.

our protocols

two unique tDCS Protocols.

Through The IRR InstituteOfficial Clinic of the Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling TeamNeuroFire specializes in two unique tDCS Protocols.

true tdcs protocols for cycling

Protocol 1:
Pre-exertion Anodal Stimulation of the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex – TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE

Neurostimulation is administered before physical activity and increases the readiness of neuron-firing by saturating specific regions of the brain with anodal electric charge, thus lowering the levels required for excitation.  

This increases neuroplasticity, resulting in states more indicative of the functioning processes of a younger brain. Engaging in activity activates the corresponding neurons, resulting in treatment targeting neurons related to that specific activity.  This form of stimulation allows neurons to build connections and fire in unison more effectively. When applied to the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex for athletes, it results in increased endurance, ability to enter “flow-states”, augmented mood, deeper and prolonged concentration, and ability to overcome mental and physical fatigue.

Protocol 2:
Post-exertion Anodal Stimulation of the Primary Motor-Cortex –
to improve recovery.

Conducted after training or physical activity.  This stimulation is applied to the region of the brain that controls motor functions.  This increases the efficacy of our bodies’ recovery processes, increases readiness, augments quality of sleep, and reinforces previously activated  neuronal activity. Like pre-exertion stimulation, the corresponding neurons must be engaged for the effect to be explicitly applied to them through a feedback loop.  This means that an active, rather than passive, recovery procedure is advisable.


Controlled studies have shown increases in what has been labelled “perceived Exertion” and “peak power output”

Perceveid Exertion

Perceived Exertion means one of two things.  Athletes feel that they are exerting the same degree of effort while delivering more physical force than they realize.  Alternatively, athletes delivering the same degree of force feel they are exerting less effort while doing so.

Peak Power Output

Studies on Peak Power Output demonstrate an increase in an athlete’s maximum limit of endurance, strength, athletic exertion, etc.  This allows athletes to surpass the normal limit whereupon their neurons would be too fatigued to continue firing.

Applying these global changes to sports training correctly opens an entirely new landscape of possibilities for passionate athletes.

External links

references & research

Scientific studies and articles in sports medicine and neurology
Brain stimulation modulates the autonomic nervous system, rating of perceived exertion and performance during maximal exercise

Okano, et al. (2015). British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49.


Transcranial direct current stimulation in sports training: potential approaches

Banissy, et al. (2013). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7.


Improving cycling performance: Transcranial direct current stimulation increases time to exhaustion in cycling

Vitor-Costa, et al. (2015). PLOS ONE, 10(12).


Transcranial direct current stimulation and sports performance

Edwards, et al. (2017). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11.


Preconditioning tDCS facilitates subsequent tDCS effect on skill acquisition in older adults

Fujiyama, et al. (2017). Neurobiology of Aging, 51.


Anodal tdcs decreases total eeg power at rest and alters brain signaling during fatigue in high performance athletes

Cortes, Edwards, et al. (2017). Brain Stimulation, 10(1).


The Ergogenic Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Exercise Performance

Angius, et al. (2017). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8.


Improved isometric force endurance after transcranial direct current stimulation over the human motor cortical areas

Cogiamanian, et al. (2007). European Journal of Neuroscience, 26(1).


Increased rate of force development and neural drive of human skeletal muscle following resistance training

Aagaard, et al. (2002). Journal of Applied Physiology, 93(4).


Anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Alters Elbow Flexor Muscle Recruitment Strategies

Krishnan, et al. (2014).  Brain Stimulation, 7(3).


tDCS Training Improves Expert Tennis Player Serving Performance

Stubbeman, et al. (2017). Brain Stimulation, 10(1).


Modulating Motor Learning through Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation: An Integrative View

Ammann, et al. (2016). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7.


Is recovery driven by central or peripheral factors? A role for the brain in recovery following intermittent-sprint exercise?

Minett, et al. (2014). Frontiers in Physiology, 5(24).


Modulating parameters of excitability during and after transcranial direct current stimulation of the human motor cortex

Nitsche, et al. (2005). The Journal of Physiology, 568(1).


Impact of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Neuronal Functions

Das, et al. (2016).  Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10.


Is it time to turn our attention toward central mechanisms for post-exertional recovery strategies and performance?

Rattray, et al. (2015). Frontiers in Physiology, 6(79).


Safety of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: Evidence Based Update 2016

Bikson, et al. (2016). Brain Stimulation 9(5).


Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: Protocols and Physiological Mechanisms of Action

Nitsche, et al. (2015). Textbook of Neuromodulation.


Brain mapping after prolonged cycling and during recovery in the heat

De Pauw, et al. (2013). Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(9).


Pacing and Decision Making in Sport and Exercise: The Roles of Perception and Action in the Regulation of Exercise Intensity

Smits, et al. (2014). Sports Medicine, 44(6).


Evidence for complex system integration and dynamic neural regulation of skeletal muscle recruitment during exercise in humans

Gibson, et al. (2004). British Journal of Sports Medicine, 38.


Perception of effort during exercise is independent of afferent feedback from skeletal muscles, heart, and lungs.

Marcora, S. (2009). Journal of Applied Physiology, 106(6).

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