Just like in sci-fi classic The Matrix, feeding knowledge directly into your brain could soon become reality and take as much effort as falling asleep, scientists believe. Researchers claim to have developed a simulator, which can feed data directly into a person’s brain and teach them new skills in a shorter amount of time, comparing it to “life imitating art”. Scientists discover that this could be the very first step in developing advanced software that will make Matrix-style instant learning a reality.
In the neo-noir sci-fi classic, protagonist Neo is able to learn kung fu in seconds after the martial art is ‘uploaded’ straight to his brain. Researchers from HRL Laboratories, based in California, say they have found a way to amplify learning, only on a much smaller scale than seen in the Hollywood film.
They studied the electric signals in the brain of a trained pilot and then fed the data into novice subjects as they learned to pilot an aeroplane in a realistic flight simulator. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that subjects who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities and learnt the task 33 per cent better than a placebo group.
“Our system is one of the first of its kind. It’s a brain stimulation system,” explained Dr Matthew Phillips. “It sounds kind of sci-fi, but there’s large scientific basis for the development of our system. “The specific task we were looking at was piloting an aircraft, which requires a synergy of both cognitive and motor performance. “When you learn something, your brain physically changes. Connections are made and strengthened in a process called neuro-plasticity. “It turns out that certain functions of the brain, like speech and memory, are located in very specific regions of the brain, about the size of your pinky.”