Learning Like Neo? Matrix-Style Learning Might Be Here

A method called "decoded neurofeedback" may help people learn instantaneously

Ready for some futuristic, Matrix-style learning? Learning like Neo could be closer than you think thanks to research from a joint team from Boston University and Japan's ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories. Their experiments, featured in the latest issue of Science, suggest that in the future we may be able to use brain technology to learn instantaneously and without any conscious effort.

The researchers were able to "use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state." In other words, a person seeking to learn a topic would watch a computer screen and have her brain patterns modified to match those of a person who already knows the content or how to do something.

According to the researchers, the methods can "cause long-lasting improvements in tasks that require visual performance." And the technology worked even when subjects were unaware that they were learning. That raises questions of whether people could be hypnotized or programmed to behave or think a certain way. But the researchers hope decoded neurofeedback will be used for more wholesome purposes —like memory and motor rehabilitation.