A group of forward-thinking military scientists want to plug soldiers’ weapons directly into their brains, and this time DARPA is nowhere to be found. The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of scientific thought, issued a report today on the applications of neuroscience in the military and law enforcement contexts. Discussed therein: new performance-enhancing designer drugs, brain stimulation to boost brain function, and weapons systems that plug directly into the brain.
The wide-ranging document reportedly covers a lot of ground, including the ethical issues surrounding the use of neuroscience in defense. It seems to focus less on ways to impact the enemy directly, and more on the enhancement of soldiers’ fighting abilities--though neurological drugs that make enemy captives more talkative or perhaps cause enemy troops fall asleep or become disoriented also get a mention.
Of particular interest in the document: transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. The idea of passing electrical signals through the skull to the brain to boost performance isn’t new to U.S. defense dreamers, as the U.S. military has already done tests on the technology (and found it helpful in improving soldiers’ abilities to detect threats). A battle helmet that can pass weak electrical pulses through the brain could sharpen a soldier’s mind, the report suggests, upping attention spans and memory as well as attention to detail.