Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Decade Of The Mind & Your New Cyborg Brain 3a

How is what we are learning about the brain being militarized?  DARPA's brain integration in building the super soldier.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
The brain is an electrical device.  Because of this, it can be altered and affected by electrical and magnetic fields.  In our previous segment, we investigated pharmaceutical tools being developed to alter human memory and emotions.  But other methods are being investigated using electromagnetism.
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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) was first developed in 1985, in the UK by Anthony Barker in Sheffield England.  He published a paper titled, Non-invasive magnetic stimulation of the human motor cortex in the journal Lancet 1:1106-1107.  For further roots back, we need go back to the 19th century and Frankenstein like experiments of Aldini with electricity, described in another article in this site.

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via: Nature News
Up until now, these transcranial devices have been awkward devices which in many cases have to be implanted in the brain usually by surgery, but there is extensive research to reduce the devices and eventually, not have a need for any implants.  Normally the number of channels for these devices are up to 32. Since the 1980s extensive research has been made in how to use this technology in the treatment of diseases, especially mental diseases.  Some research has shown interesting results, but a distinction has to be made between two different types of technology - tDCS (Transcranial Direct Stimulation) and TMS.  TMS is the newer method of sending electrical currents into the brain and does not require any surgical implantation
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of devices.  tDCS, does require the implantation of devices in the brain to achieve its goals.  In TMS there are is a subset of two types - repetitive and single pulse.  The downside of the single pulse is that the effects on the brain are more short term.  In all of these types of treatments, there is a small chance of seizures, but TMS, because it sends out a stronger current, increases the likelihood of seizures.

"God helmet"
Although not the same as TMS, a close cousin is the work of the "god helmet."  It has created the branch of study titled neurotheology.  This is based on the research of Dr. Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist.  Dr. Persinger's experiments claimed to show that almost every religious experience, including the sense that one was being watched or not alone could be recreated by electromagnetic impulses to certain parts of the brain.  Of course, just because these experiences can be duplicated by his electromagnetic impulses does not mean that this is the only way they can be had.  These experiments were not designed to make such a universal declaration.  It should be noted, that Dr. Persinger's experiments have been questioned by other scientists.  In 2004, Pehr Granqvist a professor at Uppsala University's psychology department was unable to duplicate his experiments using the double-blind standard, in a paper titled, Sensed presence and mystical experiences are predicted by suggestibility, not by the application of transcranial weak complex magnetic fields.  There were a series of exchanges between Persinger and Granqvist here.

We include two videos on this "God helmet" Dr. Persinger has created to emulate religious/spiritual experiences.  If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link:

DARPA's Interest in the Militarization Of This Technology
In IBM's Research's Almaden Institute Conference on Cognitive Computing, which took place in 2006.  Dr. Tony Tether, Director of DARPA, demonstrated an interest in the following areas:

Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architecture (BICA) - related to this concept is the BioFutures program or Bio:Info:Micro Tether reports to the subcommittee,
We will explore and develop new capabilities and methods for performing complex military operations by applying what we learn from the models provided by living systems, which function and survive in a complex environment and adapt, out of necessity, to changes in that environment. In short, the combination of biological science and technology offers an avenue into the understanding – and development for defense applications – of systems that are capable of complex, robust, and adaptive operations using fundamentally unreliable components.
A related program seems to be DARPA's Biological Science and Technology program. In the same section of this 2001 report Tether states that the purpose of this program to explore solutions to extending human performance. Solutions include extending physical and cognitive performance during the stress of military operation, and interacting with complex, teleoperated, semi-autonomous, and autonomous systems. The program is exploring biological principles and practices to enable new capabilities to sustain or extend human performance for future warfighting. The program will investigate therapeutics, sensors, materials, neural and mechanical interfaces, biological or biomimetic controllers, and learning, memory and training
Part of this effort seems aimed at creating a soldier who would in the future be able to resist changes in temperature and other environmental extremes.  In their Metabolic Engineering for Cellular Stasis program, DARPA's exploration of synthetic biology is investigating,
...biological practices that allow organisms to adapt to environmental extremes (water, temperature, salt) and using these practices to engineer new cellular systems such as platelets and red blood cells. In FY 2000, this revolutionary effort demonstrated the functional recovery of dry platelets and other cells that could be used in therapeutic or diagnostic applications for DoD. Future efforts will focus on new engineering methods and practices that result in the enhanced stabilization of cells and tissues.
The merging of man and machine is further mentioned in DARPA's Bio-Computation Program.
The Bio-Computation Program is exploring and developing computational methods and models at the bio-molecular and cellular levels for a variety of DoD and national security applications. The program is developing powerful, synthetic computations that can be implemented in bio-substrates, and computer-aided analytical and modeling tools that predict and control cellular processes and systems of living cells. The DoD applications of the program include the ability to predict cellular-level effects of chemical and biological agents and the underlying pathogenic processes; the effect of stress on cell functions (such as circadian rhythms) that affect warfighter performance; and mechanisms for controlling these effects. We are selecting performers in FY 2001. In FY 2002, the program will begin to develop scalable, DNA-based computing and storage and computational models that capture the behavior of mechanisms in living cells underlying pathogenesis and rhythms that are common to many organisms
In part 3b of this series, we will continue with DARPA and the cyborg brain.

1 comment:

Sennaya Swamy said...

Your article is extra ordinary.Thanks a lot.