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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Primates' Thinking Power Augmented by Brain Implant

September 16, 2012, 3:49 PM

What's the Latest Development?

For the first time ever, scientists have improved primates' capacity for thought using an electronic brain implant, raising questions about how the human mind might be augmented in the future. After training monkeys to do perform reasonably well on a matching game, which required them to select one of seven images that corresponded to a separate image shown on a screen, researchers gave the monkeys cocaine in order to impair the neural pathways essential to the task. The monkey's performance on the game fell immediately by a factor of 20 percent.

What's the Big Idea?

Prior to the experiment, researchers had implanted a neural device in the monkeys' brains which measured blood flow, temperature, and the electrical activity of neurons. By sensing when these metrics had become impaired by the cocaine, the device was able to deliver electric current to stimulate the affected areas. The device was able to improve the monkeys' performance to levels higher than the pre-cocaine state, suggesting cognitive enhancement had occurred. Researchers eventually hope to create an implantable chip to help human patients, such as victims of dementia or stroke, to return to their original selves. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


Primates' Thinking Power Au...

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