Hacking the Brain: Beyond the Five Senses

Sunday, January 23, 2022
First Aired: 
Sunday, April 14, 2019

What Is It

Humans evolved to have a variety of senses—smell, sight, touch, etc.—that provide information about the world around us. Our brains use this sensory information to construct a particular picture of reality. But what if it were technologically possible to hack our brains and create new senses for humans, such as echolocation or magnetoception? How would our brains integrate this new kind of information? What would it be like to perceive the world using these strange new senses? And how would these novel senses change our view of reality? Josh and Ken sense they'll talk to neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of The Brain: The Story of You.



Josh Landy  
Are humans limited to the senses were born with?

Ken Taylor  
Or is it possible to hack the brain and create new senses?

Josh Landy  
Even if we could, would we want more sensors than we already have?

Comments (7)

detail's picture


Sunday, May 5, 2019 -- 8:13 AM

Thanks for mentioning this

Thanks for mentioning this quite intelligent theme on this blog. I would like to recommend to you the following web link.


In it a detailed description , provides you with information about the usage of bci -data to watch
brain movies. The graphical visualization of our thoughts. Berkley univesity shows up with its
results on this feature for "2011". I am perfectly convinced that this is not the cutting edge of
the scientific results of today.

So your worries became real.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, October 31, 2021 -- 5:19 AM

Have heard of Eagleman.

Have heard of Eagleman. Sounds like a good book...

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Monday, November 8, 2021 -- 6:28 AM

Ken and Josh didn’t think

Ken and Josh didn’t think about the limited focus of human beings in a NeoSensory world. We can’t add infinite senses to our brain and expect all to work out well.

I spend quite a bit of my time with noise-canceling headphones on, where I could see having a NeoSensory bracelet to inform me of sudden ambient noise or even detailed information.

Overall, the application is one for brains that are already limited. Anosmia would be a challenge I would like to see addressed.

Bottom line, I would push David Eagleman to respond to the issues of information overload and limited human focus and attention. Is there a broader appeal (and a lower price point) for this tech to humans who are not disabled? What are the limits? There are limits, hazards, and potential safety issues here despite a rosy picture from Ken and Josh.

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Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Thursday, January 6, 2022 -- 11:09 AM

I never thought much of

I never thought much of multitasking. Still don't...

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tartarthistle's picture


Friday, January 21, 2022 -- 9:38 PM

"smell, sight, touch, etc."

"smell, sight, touch, etc."


Wikipedia: "The et cetera is a sense that indicates when something is too tedious or clichéd to give in full."

In other words, the et cetera senses everything you don't hear and taste, but sort of experience sideways-like. The et cetera makes you talk fast, think slow, and peel unwanted soft things.

If only more people were in touch with their sense of et cetera....

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Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, February 7, 2022 -- 5:18 AM

I keep returning to "..

I keep returning to "...beyond the five senses". Senses are feelings or SENSations we can apprehend by way of our sensory apparati. Tim Smith asks what the limits are. To my thinking, if one hacks the brain, one enters a metaphysical world. A sort of twilight zone which is asensory. Over time, there has been a repetitive notion of humans possessing a sixth sense.---a feeling of suspicion or unease---that itch on the back of one's neck: spider sense. Why spider? Why not Cobra? See, here we are wading into deep water. The metaphysical very nearly means intuitional. If it can't be seen, touched, heard, smelled or tasted, how DO we apprehend it? I concur with Smith on the matter of sensory overload.

The evidence of overload is clear, if not convincing. The more mental/emotional disorders we identify and treat ( sorta), the more new ones emerge. I won't offer any homespun analogies---they are pale representations of the problem being exacerbated. I have mentioned the modern obsession with time. It is, I think, a big piece of this. Not the only one. VR may turn out to be some kind of panacea.
Right now I can't put that all together. Intuition is different things to different people.
One final note: there has been an interesting terminology shift of late. Some people talk of processing information, as if referring to AI technology when describing what people do when they think about things. Human thought may be, a priori, a process. But, humans are not AI machinery. No cyborgs here. Not yet...

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