back to article Shock horror: US military sticks jump leads on human brains to teach them a lesson

The boffinry nerve center of the US military is working with seven American universities to see if electrically stimulating the brain will increase the ability to learn new skills. The Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) program is focused on synaptic plasticity, the ability of the brain to build new neural pathways to …

  1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    Happy face, onnit

    If they just happen to discover ways to enhance brainwashing, information extraction, or plain old torture, then softly will they carry the big electrode.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Unfortunate acronym. Or not.

    May I be the first to say I don't want my mind blown?

  3. as2003

    Calling it early

    Strong contender for headline of the year.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The mechanisms underlying this enhancement are not well understood

    Yeah, that says it all. We're still in the stone age of neural science. Electroconvulsive therapy (increasingly utilized) is really just electro-lobotomy.

    "Zap it! 50% of the time shit improves, yo."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The mechanisms underlying this enhancement are not well understood

      I think he's referring to Trans Cranial Stimulation, an offshoot of neurofeedback that I am yet to be convinced about.

      Neurofeedback has done some very good things over the last decade or so, but I'm no fan of the whole TCS idea. I prefer to consider the electrical activity of my brain to be a read-only process so it's either visual feedback or "no, thank you". I'm rather conservative when it comes to disturbing my few remaining grey cells, I reserve that for a few pints of Guinness.

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: The mechanisms underlying this enhancement are not well understood

      First part is right, second part is bullshit I'm afraid; ECT is nothing whatsoever like any sort of surgical intervention. It's like comparing revving a car to clear the plugs* with reboring the cylinders. (Weak analogy, granted)

      * kids today are not expected to understand this

  5. Boohoo4u

    This could be very useful to enhance memory storage (through brain stimulation)... Turn it on when you're studying, turn it off when you're driving or holding a conversation.

    Sign me up when we get past invasive surgeries to make it work. Though I'll accept surgery if they can guaranty no Alzheimer's.

    We're so far from "memory extraction" I'm not going to worry about it...

  6. Bilious


    FInally there is a way that I can learn to play the violin without disturbing the neighbours or making the Wife leave me. And without buying a violin.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Lovely.

      "I know Kung-Fu"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lovely.

        "I know Kung-Fu"

        .. and several other Asian words .. :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I Know Kung-Fu

        I know Chai Tea!

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Is your project about to be cancelled?

    Having difficulty getting funding for your project? Do lack any evidence that it could ever work? Call DARPA now! (Bonus points for projects that are creepy or impractical or unpopular.)

    1. Oengus

      Re: Is your project about to be cancelled?

      Triple word score if the project is creepy, impractical and unpopular. (Double word score for any two out of three)

  8. Black Rat

    Is anybody else having flashbacks of JOE-90?

  9. TheWeenie

    One step closer to The Matrix there then.

    "I know Kung Fu..."

  10. Christoph Silver badge

    "The goal is to develop a device that works on skin nerves to get the brain into overdrive."


  11. James 51 Silver badge

    What about treating brain injuries and disease?

    1. LionelB

      "Deep brain stimulation" is already a thing, and an active area of research, particularly for the treatment of severe epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, depression and Tourette Syndrome.

      The article should surely have mentioned this.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, it's Friday..

    .. so how about interfacing that with teledildonics?

    Let the sparks fly ..

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Well, it's Friday..

      Flying sparks are one of the very last things you'd want with teledildonics, I'd have thought 8.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Calm down this is DARPA. Snowballs-chance-in-Hell of success is SOP for them.

    So odds on bet they won't get far.

    But they might get just a little further than anyone else has so far.

    Actually the DoD has run various projects since (and including) Viet Nam to improve soldiers language skills. IIRC the kick off tactic was a set of flash cards with key words and phrase (especially interrogative sentences like "Where are the VC hiding?" and " how many men are in your patrol?")

    Who wouldn't want a little discretely placed plug you could fit the neural equivalent of a memory stick into and acquire skills with?

    Downside. Malware now turns you into a human bot.

    BTW it is possible to shut down (and more amazingly reboot) the human brain. It's been done when they do heart/lung operations and drain the patients blood (so no metabolism at all is running). I think the record is less than 10 hours.

    Mines the one with the oversize pockets for a copy of "War on the Mind, the Military uses and abuses of Psychology"

  14. analyzer


    I thought TNT was trinitrotoluene and goes bang under the correct circumstances.

    This zap the brain with electrickery oh wait, got it

  15. Brian Allan 1

    It's called electro-shock treatment

    If he/she doesn't learn quick enough, up the voltage and shock them again...

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    ECT was quit popular in the FSU for people with dangerous addictions.

    Dangerous addictions to telling the truth that is.

  17. dbtx Bronze badge

    A friend seriously wanted to put electrodes and then electricity into a monkey's brain and "make it smarter" something like 20 years ago. I (rather angrily) told him it wasn't that simple. Thankfully, it never happened-- probably it would have never happened anyway because of things like requiring effort, to say nothing of requiring a monkey. He will probably feel cheated out of his 15 minutes of fame if he hears about this.

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