The U.S. military long has been able to launch a missile, explode a bridge or fire a weapon with the push of a button. Under testing now is a system intended to control a soldier’s psychiatric status, make him alert, reduce his stress and intervene when he suffers pain, among other applications, with the press of a button.
The plan is being developed by an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, where William Tyler explains that available neurotechnology shows that “brain stimulation” is capable of treating neurological diseases and brain injuries as well as “serving platforms around which brain-computer interfaces can be built for various purposes.”
In a report at the Armed with Science military website, Tyler explains that “Warfighters” can be given “strategic advantages” through helmets fitted with ultrasound transducers and microcontroller devices for a range of applications to include pain intervention, “cognitive enhancement,” reducing stress and anxiety, “behavioral reinforcement,” wakefulness and alertness, “navigational commands” and “neurological/psychiatric intervention.”
“We have developed working and conceptual prototypes in which ballistic helmets can be fitted with ultrasound transducers and microcontroller devices,” he said.
Using funding from a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, he said every aspect of “human sensation, perception, emotion, and behavior is regulated by brain activity. Thus, having the ability to stimulate brain function is a powerful technology.”
He said he worked to develop a technology that implements “transcranial pulsed ultrasound to remotely and directly stimulate brain circuits without requiring surgery.”
“Further, we have shown this ultrasonic neuromodulation approach confers a spatial resolution approximately five times greater than TMS and can exert its effects upon subcortical brain circuits deep within the brain,” he said.
“Our research will begin undergoing the next phases of research and development aimed towards engineering future applications using this neurotechnology for our country’s warfighters,” he said. “Here, we will continue exploring the influence of ultrasound on brain function and begin using transducer phased arrays to examine the influence of focused ultrasound on intact brain circuits.”
He will also study using “capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers” for brain stimulation.
On the Armed With Science website forum, “Marc” lamented that it was “a pity” that science and scientists dedicate their efforts “to war instead of peace.”
Added John Pattison, “This is the missing link between artificial intelligence, brain computer uploading, even cyborg research and special ability of telepathy, esp, psychic, pentacostal Christians who access others thoughts via the spiritual realm.”
In a Popular Science commentary on the issue, Clay Dillow wrote that other attempts at similar work always involved “surgically implanted electrodes,” and transcranial magnetic stimulation has “limited reach.”
“Tyler’s technology, packaged in a warfighter’s helmet, would allow soldiers to flip a switch to stimulate different regions of their brains,” he suggested, “helping them relieve battle stress when it’s time to get some rest, or to boost alertness during long periods without sleep.
“Grunts could even relieve pain from injuries or wounds without resorting to pharmaceutical drugs,” he said.
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