Before Neuralink: we can already connect our brains

By Federico Romano

In recent days Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, presented its advances and possible applications of the controversial brain chip that with thousands of high-tech electrodes will be able to (in the not so distant future) increase our cognitive abilities, cure neurological diseases of great morbidity and merge us with artificial intelligence in a concept that until recently was just science fiction, the symbiosis between humans and computers.

From the presentation, opinions of all kinds arose that show how much the great technological advances make us reconsider our worldview, and the big question: where are we heading with this Neurotechnological revolution that is here to stay and will have a great leap towards the mass public in 2021.

The expectations are enormous, the essence of the human being and its entire evolutionary history focuses on its brain capacity. While Neuralink’s team of experts led by Max Hodak is advancing by leaps and bounds, there is a great chasm of experimentation, validation and understanding of how neurons encode information before being able to load data directly into our brain through intracranial implants.This is mentioned by Thomas Oaxley, CEO of Synchron, an Australian company that is also developing a system to insert brain probes. Oaxley says effective results should not be expected soon, as the technology is not advanced enough to achieve this. However, he believes that because Musk is willing to invest large amounts of money in his company, it will be “exciting to see what he will develop.” And of course, it will be, the futuristic tech mogul seems to take things seriously.

Neuralink’s brain chip

Is it possible that Neurotechnology enhances our capabilities even before the arrival of Neuralink in the future? The answer is yes, and it is already among us: non-invasive EEG.

Thanks to the remarkable amount of comments that even behind memes showed concern about implanting something inside the brain, there was also several posts about non-invasive EEG (electroencephalography), we talk about portable EEGs that are gaining more popularity every day in the market through headbands, headphones or tattooEEG.

Neuralink is a promising Neurotechnology with a great positive impact on society, but it seems that we are not ready for this yet, it will take time, perhaps more than 10 years to achieve massive consent to place intracranial chips. Meanwhile, the entire society is left with the desire to enhance brain capabilities with artificial intelligence and this is exactly where portable EEGs come into play. 

At this time, companies such as InteraxonEmotivBrainCo and Naxon Labs are showing that society is ready to use headbands and wearables that measure our brain activity, enhance cognition and help fight mental and neurological disorders.

Connected only with bluetooth, without implanting chips and with a horizon full of possibilities that range from improving the ability to study or work, detecting when a driver is falling asleep, detecting emotions or accelerating the treatment of many mental and neurological problems on a scale never seen before before.Interaxon for example, has created brainwave-controlled computing technology and applications that converts brainwaves into digital signals. They have an app that can be used with their hardware to train in mindfulness and meditation that can help you calm you down and reduce stress.

Interaxon’s portable EEG device

Naxon Labs on the other hand, provides software and data platforms that work with Interaxon’s Muse headset to offer an accessible, simple and low-cost way to record brain activity and mental states of the person and work with this data to meet the needs of academic centers, clinics and professionals. Naxon released recently the software Explorer, a system for professionals in the fields of Neuroscience, Psychology, Medicine, Engineering and Information Technology, formworking with brain data. At the same time, the company is working on Emotions, a platform for emotion recognition which promise to detect states like anxiety, relaxation, concentration, joy, anger or sadness in real time. The system can be used by mental health professionals to improve patient records for diagnosis and treatment, enable monitoring of patient progress, remote monitoring and therapy, improve the implementation of techniques for regulating mental disorders, and also allowing applications in various specific disorders such as ADHD.

Naxon Labs’ Emotions platform

In this way and as a collateral effect, Neuralink opens the door to curiosity about portable EEGs and sows a path towards the future with a society that will no longer be shocked by moving objects with a simple thought.

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