What if you could put your brain into a trance?
What if your brain could see the future and not know it?
That’s the question being posed by researchers from the University of Oxford, who have been working with the brain-computer interface (BCI) company IBM to explore the brain’s fascination with the future.
The research team are trying to figure out how the brain works, what is the brain thinking about, and how it makes decisions in the face of new and potentially catastrophic events.
The researchers are using EEG technology to record the brainwaves of volunteers while they are in a virtual world where they are asked to look at a screen and play a video game.
They are using these brainwaves to monitor how the volunteers are reacting to various scenarios that might affect the future: climate change, war, pandemic, natural disasters and more.
The researchers said the brain is more likely to be affected by climate change because the brain uses more energy to process information, and because people are also more likely in the future to need to have a backup.
In a similar way, people are more likely than ever to have to worry about the health of their families and communities and the possibility of catastrophic events like climate change.
“What’s striking about this is that the brain appears to be thinking about a variety of potential futures,” said lead author Dr Robert O’Donnell.
He said the team’s experiments showed the brain was more likely “to think about possible futures than to make decisions about the immediate future”.
The research was published in the journal PLOS ONE._____The team is working with IBM to make the technology a reality.
IBM said it had a “deep and long-standing relationship with Oxford” and had worked with the university on the research for the past 20 years.
“Our research at Oxford is one of the most important in the world for a variety [of] reasons,” said IBM spokesperson Mark Hickey.
IBP is the largest technology company in the US.