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Brain Hacking Is Having Incredible Effects And It's Just Getting Started

With a jolt of electricity, you might be able to enter a flow state that allows you to learn a new skill twice as fast, solve problems that have mystified you for hours, or even win a sharpshooting competition.

And this just scratches the surface in terms of what we might be able to do to improve cognition as our understanding of the brain improves. With an implanted chip, the possibilities might be close to limitless.

Researchers think that as we learn more about the brain, we’ll be able to use electricity to boost focus, memory, learning, mathematical ability, and pattern recognition. Electric stimulation may also clear away depression and stave off cognitive decline. We’ll eventually even implant computer chips that allow us to directly search the web for information or even download new skills — like Neo learning Kung-fu in The Matrix.

We’re heading down a path that will allow us to supercharge the brain. 

The key is decoding how the brain works. That’s the hurdle in the way, and the one that billions of dollars in research are going towards right now.

"I don’t think there’s any doubt we’ll eventually understand the brain," says Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology at New York University, and an editor of the upcoming book “The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists.” 

"The big question is how long it’s going to take," he says.

Repairing And Enhancing

Most of the technologies that could enhance our ability to think play another important role too. They may provide the keys to stopping cognitive decline, treating mental illness, and even restoring sight to the blind or hearing to the deaf.

Some of these techniques are already being used in that way.

Stimulating the brain with electricity to treat ailments has a long history. The ancient Greeks and Romans, including Pliny the Elder, shocked themselves with the Atlantic torpedo ray to treat headaches. Treatments like transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) now show promise as a means of treating depression, epilepsy, and other drug-resistant brain disorders, according to Michael Weisend, a neuroscientist at Wright State Research Institution.

And neural implants show potentially far more possibilities. They already can transmit sound to the brain to provide a type of hearing for some deaf people. When connected to a tiny camera they can even capture shape and motion and transmit them to the brain, providing a type of vision for certain blind patients.

Knowing how these techniques are used medically shows what we understand about the brain now — but what’s really fascinating is what this research will allow us to do in the future.

(Mike Nudelman/Business Insider)

A Jolt To The Outside Of The Head

First you strap a small device to your head, making sure that its electrodes are lined up in just the right way, and then flip a switch. A small jolt of electricity is delivered to your brain. All of a sudden, you feel a slight buzz that soon fades. Fogginess and anxiety clear away — you’re suddenly able to solve puzzles that stumped you before, you can discern patterns out of noise, and your memory works significantly better. 

According to neuroscientists and a large community of DIY brain hackers, that’s not science fiction — its already the reality of TDCS. Many researchers still have questions about how effective brain stimulation will be in the long term, but there’s a lot of promising research so far.

What this does is provide a fairly broad but small dose of electricity to the brain, affecting millions of cells, and enhancing performance along the way.

"TDCS is more of a shotgun approach than a scalpel approach," says Weisend. They try to target a region and make sure as much electricity reaches that region as possible, but a broad beam is sent out along the way. Luckily, most results so far have shown that in supervised lab conditions, these techniques are safe.

So far, this technique shows the most promise for improving memory, pattern recognition, and vigilance — the ability to pay attention — according to Weisend. His team has tested or demonstrated TDCS on more than 500 people, including Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad, and among other things, they’ve shown that people learning a new skill can learn twice as much as people who receive the same training but no stimulation.

Other studies have shown that electrical stimulation can provide the same energy boost as giving someone a cup of coffee. Researchers have found that people who undergo brain zapping sessions canenhance their mathematical abilities for up to six months. The increased focus it provides can evengive people a huge boost in U.S. military sniper training simulations. The military has also found that it can help pilots better pick out targets from radar images.

Promising results and cheap, easy-to-build devices have made battery-powered brain stimulators a favorite of the DIY community, especially for people interested in boosting their own brain power and for video gamers, who can use any boost in focus, vigilance, and the ability to see the next guy before he sees you. 

These self-experimenters give neuroscientists like Weisend pause, however, as they may not be as careful as research teams and also can create unrealistic expectations for the technology.

"What we know is that changing the way a brain functions can make it perform better," says Weisend, but he also says that "the most interesting days for TDCS are definitely down the road" — when we better understand how it works. 

A Chip In Your Skull

There are ways to have a much more direct impact on the brain than the broad one external electrical stimulation applies — if you are willing to put a sort of computer chip inside your skull. 

Those same implants that are already used for vision and hearing could be used to enhance those senses far beyond normal as technology improves and as we better learn how to communicate that information to the brain. 

But one of the first neural enhancements that we might see is one that improves memory, according to Marcus.

Already, the military is using research into neural implants and electrodes implanted into the brain to restore damaged memory in people with trauma. Marcus says we should eventually be able to build implants that extend memory and make it more reliable — people are trying to do it already. It’s hard to say when we’ll be able to do that — maybe not this decade, Marcus says, but perhaps the one after that.

First, we’ll have to figure out how the brain codes away and stores memory.

That’s the hurdle for a lot of this research, and it’s hard to predict when we’ll jump it. Butgovernments and research institutions around the world have set modeling and understanding the brain as one of the top scientific priorities of our time.

Once we know how the brain changes as it stores information and implants a new skill, a brain implant could mimic that effect, making it possible to actually download the brain changes that would come with practice. A neuroscience and technological challenge like that may be far away — but we’re talking about 50 year projects, not 500 year projects, says Marcus.

What’s Next

No matter what type of technique we talk about, experts agree that aren’t quite there yet — though we’re a lot closer than most people think.

With regard to TDCS, Weisend thinks it’ll be incorporated into training programs (the military could save billions of dollars if they could cut training time short), treatment for drug resistant brain disease, and maybe in professional occupations that demand a lot of focus and where lives are on the line.

Marcus is excited about the possibilities of neural implants, but he also thinks that our perspective on all this will be transformed as we learn more about how the mind works. “I think that the techniques we have now are going to look really crude in 30 years,” he says.

But it’s going to happen. And the world is going to change with it.

Source: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/brain-hacking-is-having-incredible-effects-and-its-94844111639.html

/ About us

Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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