David Eagleman

Eagleman David The Brain: The Story of You

New Scientist 10 October 2015; vol 228 no 3042

One of the great mysteries of neuroscience: how do electrochemical messages in your brain get turned into your subjective experience of the world? What we know is that the brain is good at extracting patterns from our environment and assigning meaning to them.

The brain is really flexible about what it can incorporate into its reality. It receives information in the form of electrochemical signals from our eyes, our nose, our skin, and works out meaning from them. Crucially, it doesn’t care where these signals are coming from; it just figures out how to use them. I think of the brain as a general-purpose computer. Our senses are just plug-and-play devices that we have inherited through evolution. And if that is the case, we should be able to interface any datastream into the brain and it will figure out how to deal with it.

VEST - versatile extrasensory transducer

Right now, everything about our society is engineered around the senses that we currently have all stop if I were suddenly able to have ultrasonic hearing, I would hear animal calls that no one else could hear. As a nature lover that would be amazing, but I don’t know if it would be lonely to have that extrasensory space if no other human joins me there. I’d also like to explore whether Vest can allow us to better connect with other people. Perhaps if my wife and I both wore a Vest, and used it to somehow experience each other’s emotions, that might bring us to a new level of closeness. Or perhaps it would be detrimental - we just don’t know until we try. We anticipate that the world’s hive mind will come up with some great ways to use it.