Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Welcome to Your Future Brain: Inside David Eagleman's Neuro Lab

David Eagleman: We’re entering a very interesting stage of human history right now where we can start importing technology to enhance our natural senses or perception of the world.  So as it stands now, as biological creatures, we only see a very small strip of what's going on.  Take electromagnetic radiation: there's a little strip of that that we can see, and we call it “visible light,” but the whole rest of that spectrum -- radio waves, television, cell phone, gamma rays, x-rays -- it’s invisible to us because we don't have biological receptors for it.  So CNN is passing through your body right now and you don't know it because you don't have the right receptors for it.  Well, it turns out that the part that we see of the spectrum is one ten trillionth of it, so we’re not seeing most of what's going on, right?  

What's very interesting, I think, as we keep pushing forward with technology, is we’ll be able to take more and more data from those invisible parts of the world and start feeding them into our brain. So, for instance, snakes see in the infrared range and honey bees see in the ultraviolet range. Well, there's no reason why we can't start building devices to see that and feed it directly into our brains.  

It turns out what the brain is really good at doing is extracting information from streams of data, and it doesn't matter how you get those data streams there. One of the things my lab is doing is building a vibratory vest so that we can feed in sensory information through the skin of your torso rather than through more typical sensory channels.  So, for example, we’re doing this for people who are deaf who want to be able to hear.  We set up a microphone on the vest and then the auditory stream is turned into this matrix of vibrations on your skin, and what that does is it feeds in electrical signals into the brain that represent the auditory information.  

And if it sounds crazy that you would ever be able to understand all these signals through your skin, remember that all the auditory system is doing is taking signals and turning them into electrical signals in your brain.  

So we’re developing this right now so that deaf people will be able to hear through their skin, but our next stage is to feed not just auditory information but other data streams into the vest -- for example, stock market data or weather data -- and people will be able to perceive these data streams just by walking around all day and unconsciously having the stream of information coming into their body, and it will expand their sensory world.  

I think this is where technology and the brain have a very fertile meeting ground, is that we will be able to enhance the window of reality that we’re able to see.


Directed / Produced byJonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

We’re entering a very interesting stage of human history right now where we can start importing technology to enhance our natural senses or perception of the world, says neuroscientist David Eagleman.

LIVE ON MONDAY | "Lights, camera, activism!" with Judith Light

Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

The mind-blowing science of black holes

What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.

Videos
  • When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
  • A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
  • Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

Your emotions are the new hot commodity — and there’s an app for that

Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Personal Growth

Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.

Keep reading Show less
Quantcast