New ‘Matrix Style’ Brain Breakthrough Could Let Us Download New Skills

Learning martial arts normally takes years of dedicated practice - but in The Matrix, Keanu Reeves’s character simply downloads some skills and turns into a kung fu master.

A new brain breakthrough means this technique is a step closer to reality.

Scientists at the HRL Information and System Sciences Laboratory in California studied the brain activity of a trained pilot, and fed that data into an unskilled person as they trained on a simulator.

They found that volunteers having their brains stimulated learnt new skills 33%

Dr Matthew Phillips said: ‘Our system is one of the first of its kind. It’s a brain stimulation system.

‘The specific task we were looking at was piloting an aircraft, which requires a synergy of both cognitive and motor performance.

‘It turns out that certain functions of the brain, like speech and memory, are located in very specific regions of the brain, about the size of your pinky.

‘What our system does is it actually targets those changes to specific regions of the brain as you learn.

‘The method itself is actually quite old. In fact, the ancient Egyptians 4,000 years ago used electric fish to stimulate and reduce pain.

‘Even Ben Franklin applied currents to his head, but the rigorous, scientific investigation of these method started in the early 2000s and we’re building on that research to target and personalise a stimulation in the most effective way possible.