The human brain has tremendous adaptability. It controls the heartbeat, broadcasts dreams, recalls songs on a couple of notes and allows you to learn a new language. This is because the brain can rewrite the connections it uses as it learns new skills or responds to changes in the world around it.
However, soon the brain may face a serious test – the connection to the neurocomputer interface (NCI). This can affect the perception of the world and one’s own body, as well as the speed of generating new ideas.
The brain-computer interface, installed invasively (inside the skull), involves placing electrodes on the surface of the brain to receive electrical signals that travel through the tissue. At a basic biological level, the brain does not tolerate foreign objects well. They create what is called fibrous tissue, a small scar around the electrode itself. Although the technology is relatively new, scarring of the brain is not believed to cause any major disruption in brain function.
But other changes that occur in the brain when using NCI can be much more extensive than a piece of “dead” tissue. Writes about this ZDNet.
Primal Neural Instrument
NCI can be called an advanced “stick” that interacts directly with neurons. Therefore, their chance of adapting to the new interface increases as it stimulates their plasticity. A study last year found that even a non-invasive NCI that uses wearable transmitters increases the brain’s ability to adapt in a short time. Now scientists see great potential for the use of NCI in the rehabilitation of people who have survived a stroke or trauma to the spinal cord system.
In addition, with regular use of a robotic prosthesis guided by an NCI, the brain can rearrange the internal map of the body as if it were a standard part of the body. There is also no reason to doubt that the NCI will allow a person to adapt to work with two additional mechanical arms.
“In fact, with prolonged use of a prosthesis with NCI, there comes a moment when it begins to take root. Because it is so closely tied to your nervous system, the person using the NCI actually begins to see it as part of their whole, ”said Justin Williams, professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Vinska in Madison.
Power of thought
Other effects of the neural interface on the brain are likely to be discovered later, when the devices find new uses. DARPA, for example, funds NKI research that could be used to wage war. Soldiers will only be able to control tanks or drones with their minds. Likewise, Facebook is researching the use of NCI to transform thoughts into electronic text. In both cases, the connection between the computer and the brain will allow us to abandon conventional interfaces that require manual input.
This will mean a sharp jump in speed between the appearance of a thought in a person, and its embodiment in the form of an action in the real world. The speed of information processing will grow to enormous values.
“Computers can process signals much faster than the nervous system, so it is possible to scale time. You can potentially execute movement commands much faster, ”said Justin Sanchez, a technician at the Battelle Memorial Institute. – We are limited in our perception and interaction with the world due to the fundamental speed of our nervous system. If you provide the brain with something faster, it can adapt and perform better. ”
According to Jonathan Woolpoe, director of the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies, the main question for working with NCI is how successfully the brain will begin to cope with new tasks to which it has adapted throughout its evolution. “He kind of can, but not so good with our current methods,” the scientist noted. It seems that we only have to find out if the human brain can surpass itself, working in conjunction with a computer.