brainhacking

People who have put together their own low-tech devices, using inexpensive components including 9-volt batteries, wires and electrodes as a form of DIY neuroscience are sometimes called 'brainhackers' in a similar fashion as 'biohackers', who open up biotechnology. 'Hacking the brain' is both challenging as well as doable, both philosophical as well as practical, both artistic as well as business, both scientific as well as futuristic.

“I think, therefore I am”

As Descartes made us realise: we have the ability to question, to think and to re-think our ideas. This might even be that which makes us human. But how do we question, think and re-think? Scientists have shown that the grey matter inside our heads plays a big role in this all. Artists continue to stimulate our minds, provoke us with new questions and challenge all our ideas. Then again, none of this would have been possible without the continuous technological improvements the developers in this world make possible. But while these disciplines thrive and make new discoveries; what do we really know?

 

An article about the role that art can play in ethical reflection on risky and controversial technologies.

 

Hack yourself better (or worse): this year's edition of Hack the Brain was all about health. What happens when you bring together a group of 54 artists, (neuro)scientists and coders for 72 hours?

 

In Hack in the Brain – education, we explored how currently available, neuroscientific knowledge and neurotechnologies can be applied to improve learning and the learning environment both now and in the foreseeable future. We did this in workshops with pupils of the Hyperion Lyceum, a public evening and a three-day hackathon at the Waag. Neuroscientists, developers, education experts and others interested gathered to perform experiments in the field of neuroscience and education.

 

Many a curious soul withstood the hot weather for a brain stimulating evening—we had a full-house during the kick-off of Hack the Brain 2015. Our visiting-neuroscientist Wobbie van den Hurk reported the evening.

 

As a participant of both Hack the Brain 2014 and this year’s edition, I like to share my team’s (technical) experiences with coding rapid prototypes using EEG data from the Muse headset.

 

With the help of students from the Hyperion Lyceum in Amsterdam Noord, a specialized Hack the Brain team went in search of the best ideas for the coolest brain hacks for Hack the Brain 2015. Everyone has preconceived notions about the grey matter inside their heads. Newspapers, commercials, and movies are all full of references to the brain. In science, neuroscience an active field of research.

 

As I listened to the first talks at TEDx Amsterdam Education 2015, I found myself wondering, “Am I TED tired?” TED is known to prepare its speakers extensively. But to me, taken together, the strong push towards an identical format seems to have erased some of the uniqueness from the talks.

 

After intense months of waiting and preparation for the event, finally, the transdisciplinary hackathon Hack the Brain has taken place at Waag, closely with the Open Wetlab, the biotechnology lab of art and design. The event has involved different people, including scientists, programmers, artists and creatives, which together, during an intense co-working of three days, have operatively experimented and reflected upon the possibilities offered by the new Brain Computer Interface (BCI).

 

From the cozy tower rooms to the FabLlab and Makers Guild, every corner of the Waag building at the Nieuwmarkt was turned into temporary workspaces during Hack the Brain for 10 different teams of (software) developers, neuroscientists and creative minds during the weekend of 23rd-25th of May 2014. Each one of these teams had the same goal: creating the best brain hack.

 

Frank Kresin interviewed writer Arnon Grunberg about a special brain experiment. Under the guidance of a team (neuro)scientists he measures his emotions and brain activity while he is writing his newest book.

 

A paralyzed woman has been able to feed herself chocolate and move everyday items using a robotic arm directly controlled by thought, showing a level of agility and control approaching that of a human limb.