According to recent research, mild electrical stimulation can make us walk more quickly.
When we move, hairs in our inner ears detect changes in speed and feed this information back to the brain, improving our balance.
Shinichi Iwasaki at the University of Tokyo, Japan, and his colleagues have found that electrical stimulation may enhance this, prompting people to walk faster.
Volunteers had electrodes fitted behind their ears that were hooked up to a portable stimulator. When they received about 300 microamps, they walked about 15% faster, without feeling any tingling from the device (Brain Stimulation,
This type of stimulation was enough to make 12 volunteers with bilateral vestibulopathy – a balance disorder that makes
walking difficult – step out almost as fast as if they did not
have the condition.
Iwasaki, S., Fujimoto, C., Egami, N., Kinoshita, M., Togo, F., Yamamoto, Y. & Yamasoba, T. (2018) Noisy vestibular stimulation increases gait speed in normals and in bilateral vestibulopathy. 11(4), pp.709-715. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2018.03.005.