Soldiers' helmets could control brain activity with ultrasound

ultrasonic bmi
(Lower left) A ballistic helmet fitted with four ultrasound transducers and (lower right) another functional prototype for achieving human brain stimulation using a single element transducer, as well as a list of potential applications relevant to the defense industry. Image credit: Tyler Lab.

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of DARPA's latest pursuits of cutting-edge research involves a neurotechnology lab at Arizona State University that specializes in ultrasonic brain stimulation. By implementing the technology in soldiers' helmets, DARPA hopes to provide advantages to US troops by enhancing cognitive abilities; improving long-term alertness; and reducing stress, anxiety, and pain.

The research lab is run by neuroscientist William Tyler, who has been investigating non-invasive approaches to for many years. Some of the applications of brain stimulation include treating such as Parkinson's and depression, as well as enabling the development of brain-computer interfaces.

As Tyler explains in a recent blog post, two of the biggest challenges in brain stimulation are achieving high spatial resolution (for precise control of ) and deep penetration (for reaching all parts of the brain). Currently, some brain stimulation techniques require surgically implanting electrodes to achieve these goals, and non-surgical techniques tend to lack in one or both areas. But Tyler has developed a noninvasive technique in which “transcranial pulsed ultrasound” can remotely stimulate without the need for surgery. The pulsed ultrasound approach can provide a spatial resolution that is about five times greater than other non-surgical techniques and can reach deep-brain circuits to the same depth as surgical techniques.

With the new grant from DARPA, the lab is now turning its attention toward developing applications for US soldiers. Instead of using the technology to repair damaged brain circuits, the researchers are exploring how ultrasound can affect healthy brain circuits. They have developed working and conceptual prototypes of ballistic helmets embedded with ultrasound transducers and microcontroller devices. One of the most important applications may be minimizing the effects of a (TBI), as Tyler explained to Wired.

“The really damaging part of a TBI isn’t the initial injury,” he said. “It’s the metabolic damage, the free radicals and the swelling that are happening in the hours afterward. If you can flick your remote and trigger an immediate intervention, you’d be curbing what might otherwise be lifelong brain damage.”

More information: via: Armed With Science and Wired

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Sep 10, 2010
Remotely controlling soldier's brains is something that scares me a bit. Maybe I'm a bit paranoid.

Sep 10, 2010
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Sep 10, 2010
I thought this sounded like a bad idea, but then my helmet told me to quit worrying.

Sep 10, 2010
Ultrasound is used during liposuction, too. It makes fat tissue pretty fluid.

Sep 10, 2010
Reduce the fear response, bolster the impulse to follow orders, ignore pain signals, amp up aggression, quell moral reflex...

What could go wrong?

Sep 10, 2010
Mind control helmets. No need to worry about big brother watching, he'll reside in your head. I wonder where where this could go. If they can do it in a helmet how long before an implant will follow? First it will be soldiers, then child molesters, then rowdy inmates, then alcoholics and drug addicts. Go a little farther? How about it stimulating the brains pleasure areas? Sounds like an old sc-fi story. Drugs where passe and addicts used a device like that called a drowd. Yeah, nice technology, no potential for abuse there.

Sep 10, 2010
This helmet has the same effect as over the counter or prescription drugs. What's everyone's REAL moral dilemma?

Sep 10, 2010
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Sep 10, 2010
This helmet has the same effect as over the counter or prescription drugs. What's everyone's REAL moral dilemma?


Well when the kid comes home and goes on a shooting spree or kills his girlfriend... Or throws a grenade into a crowd of civilians while he is stationed in Iraq... How can you really prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the headgear didn't make him go crazy? Sounds like too much liability to me.


Sep 10, 2010
Well when the kid comes home and goes on a shooting spree or kills his girlfriend... Or throws a grenade into a crowd of civilians while he is stationed in Iraq... How can you really prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the headgear didn't make him go crazy? Sounds like too much liability to me.


How can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt it wasn't something in the water? Kids already do those things you mentioned. I'm not trying to say it's a great idea, my point was that if you demonize the "brain helmet", you also have to demonize alcohol, caffeine, pot, "spice", chocolate, ibuprofen, sniffing glue and whatever else people do these days to affect how they perceive the environment around them and how they perceive themselves

Sep 10, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 10, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 10, 2010
Big Brother is already watching you, this is just an added refinement. Everything will be reduced to a pill filled with nanomachines anyways.

Sep 10, 2010
I need a helmet that makes me perceive time faster at work. 8 hours feels so long..

Sep 10, 2010
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Sep 10, 2010
I saw someone metion the idea of Niven's Droud unit for wireheading, but the far more disturbing thought is if they make a Tasp type weapon. Something that can make you change your mind with the push of a button... or turn you into a slave by setting the pleasure centers off in your head till your a drooling puddle, and willing to do anything for just one more shot.....

Sep 10, 2010
The Manchurian Candidate x platoon

Sep 12, 2010
I thought this sounded like a bad idea, but then my helmet told me to quit worrying.

i like how you think, because it is how i think now too, thanks to the helmet....;)

Sep 12, 2010
Big Brother is already watching you, this is just an added refinement. Everything will be reduced to a pill filled with nanomachines anyways.

While I agree completely....I don't know where I was going with that.

Sep 13, 2010
Although there are great possibilities for medicine, absolute power corrupts absolutely...

Sep 13, 2010
First damage brains with fluoride and monosodium glutamate and whatever else...
Then you can "heal" the remaining healthy parts.
What could possibly go wrong with an army of brain dead people wearing a mind control helmet?

Sep 13, 2010
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Sep 13, 2010
Reduce the fear response, bolster the impulse to follow orders, ignore pain signals, amp up aggression, quell moral reflex...

What could go wrong?

All of these can be done with focus.
Perhaps this type of technology will be more useful on less trained individuals?


Sep 18, 2010
I need a helmet that...um...I don't remember. Oh, wait! Nope, not that either.

I need a helmet!

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