A SMART STIMULUS? The Internet. Google Maps. Many of the tools we use today for driving, research and learning had roots the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense. (Not all ideas are good; see BigDog for instance.)
This month, the agency—most affectionately known by its acronym—announced a new program, “Targeted Neuroplasticity Training” (TNT), that “will explore using peripheral nerve stimulation to enhance learning processes in the brain.”
Details about the program are scant. The above image suggests that activating peripheral nerves by stimulating the back of the neck (with a non-invasive device) will boost cognitive skills. If the experiment goes well, DARPA hopes, it could reduce the time needed to train specialists in areas in skill such as foreign languages and cryptography. (Might math and literacy follow?)
TNT is hardly the only DARPA project exploring ways to improve cognitive functions. Over a dozen experiments, exploring ways reduce memory loss, improve “self-healing” and restore senses, have been underway since President Obama launched the “BRAIN Initiative” in April 2013.
DARPA is inviting scientists and researchers to a “Proposers Day” in Arlington, VA on April 8, 2016, where it will share more details. Those interested must register by March 31, 5pm ET.