'Downloading' new skills into our brains like characters on The Matrix set to become a reality, say scientists
By Ted Thornhill
Last updated at 6:05 PM on 9th December 2011
Learning a martial art, how to fly a plane or how to speak a new language without even being awake is set to become a reality, say researchers.
Scientists at Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, believe that in the future learning a new skill might involve nothing more than sitting in front of a computer screen and waiting for it to ‘upload’.
They have been studying how a functional magnetic resonance machine (FMRI) can ‘induce’ knowledge in someone through their visual cortex by sending signals that change their brain activity pattern.
Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves: In The Matrix they become super-powerful just from being plugged into a computer program that teaches them new skills
IF FMRI DOESN'T WORK, THERE'S ALWAYS THE MEMORY PILL
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine found recently that if a molecule called PKR is inhibited, it leads to brain activity that leads to the formation of long-term memories in the adult brain.
What's more, this molecule can be artificially blocked, leading to the possibility of a 'memory-enhancing drug'.
Dr Mauro Costa-Mattioli, from Baylor, said: 'It is indeed quite amazing that we can also enhance both memory and brain activity with a drug that specifically targets PKR.
'Our identity and uniqueness is made up of our memories. This molecule could hold the key to how we can keep our memories longer, but also how we create new ones.'
This process is called Decoded Neurofeedback, or ‘DecNef’.
No medication is needed and the subject doesn’t even have to be awake, he or she simply has their brain activity changed to a ‘target’ pattern, which could be anything from that of a star footballer to a master chess player.
Lead author Takeo Watanabe from the University of Boston said: ‘Adult early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning.’
The researchers knew their technique had worked because the FMRI volunteers all underwent visual skill tests and had their results compared with those of people not given the treatment - and the former had far better scores.
In the The Matrix trilogy the characters learn new skills by having a computer physically plugged into their brains and new skills directly uploaded.
The day when we are able to do something similar is not too far away, say the researchers.
The results of their study were published in Science.
Fighting talk: Scientists believe we will one day be able to 'download' new abilities, such as a martial art
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...#ixzz1g7ij0sjp
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