Hacking Brain Possible with DARPA’ New Targeted Neuroplasticity Training Program

DARPA plans to hack the peripheral nervous system and American security officials and spies

For the defensive purpose, it is very important to train the brains of the government agents and security personnel but it is a very costly, time-consuming and daunting task as it involves everything from learning foreign languages to cryptography.

However, DARPA has been trying to find a solution to simulate the peripheral nerves of the human body and trick the brain into thinking that it is learning fast. Therefore, DARPA has planned to initiate the Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) program to benefit from the synaptic plasticity of our brain.

It must be noted that our brain is able to constantly rearrange its functions and structures as a response to experiences in learning new skills.

DARPA has released an official statement which explained that this program is being developed to accurately and securely modulate peripheral nerves so that controlling synaptic plasticity of the brain during cognitive skill training could be achieved.

Digging Deeper:

It is usually the brain that takes decisions and sends signals to peripheral branches, which is what compels us to say things that we say or learn new concepts/skills. But, Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) premise is set on the mechanism that signals are instigated in the extremities and then forwarded to the brain to alter or modify its structure. This means the agency plans to stimulate specific peripheral nerves to trigger the release of certain molecules. These molecules are released into the brain due to which the neurons rearrange themselves and the purpose is achieved.

This approach isn’t very novel since the brain actually works in this way; it constantly rearranges its functions and structures especially while we are learning. Therefore, reinforcing the new connections via external stimuli instead of repetition and practice will quicken the brain’s tendency to absorb new information.

According to program manager Doug Weber, this is a way of re-opening of the “critical period” of the brain, which is the time when the brain is most ready to learn.

DARPA declined to reveal any further information on this new project. What we managed to learn so far is the scope of this research and that the project is in its infancy period as of now. DARPA aims to attract scientists and industry representatives to help in developing the technology by hosting a “Proposer’s Day” in April.

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