Ask Hackaday: What are Your Less Extreme Brain Hacks?

Kahn — perhaps Star Trek’s best-hated villain — said: “Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity, but improve man and you gain a thousandfold.” In fact, a lot of hacking effort goes into doing just that. Your phone has become an extension of your memory, for example. We use glasses, cameras, and hearing aids to shore up failing senses or even give us better senses than normal. But hacking your body — or someone else’s — has always been controversial. While putting an RFID chip in your finger is one thing, would you consider having a part of your brain removed? That sounds crazy, but apparently, there is a growing interest in having your amygdala removed.

To be clear: we think this is a terrible idea. The science is shaky, at best, and we certainly wouldn’t want to be among the first to try something so radical. But why is anyone even talking about it?

The amygdala is part of your brain that causes at least some of your fear and anxiety. Get rid of your amygdala, get rid of anxiety? What’s even stranger is this the procedure — an amygdalectomy — has been going on since the 1960s! Injections of oil and wax destroy the tissue and this treatment is used for some forms of epilepsy and to manage certain aggressive behavior problems in mentally ill patients. In modern times, the procedure is not very common although it appears that it does still occur in some places. But the technology to do it does exist. There have also been documented cases where people lose their amygdala from natural causes that gives us some clues of what life would be like without one.

However, it is hard to say if these people lost fear. Most of the surgical patients were already suffering from a variety of problems. There is some evidence that the naturally occurring amygdalaless patients experienced less fear in some situations, but may experience more fear in others. They also may have other problems such as difficulty understanding social cues or making eye contact. We’re not 100% sure what the amygdala does, even disregarding potential side effects.

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Dermal implants means strapless watch

dermal

Google Glass is a year or so out, and even after that we’re still looking at about five years until we’re all upgraded at the behest of our robotic overlords. [justurn] simply can’t wait, so he decided to submit to the cybermen early with his Android-controlled wristwatch attached with dermal implants.

[justurn]’s got the inspiration for his project from this earlier Hackaday post involving dermal implants and an iPod nano. The iPod nano doesn’t have a whole lot of functionality, though, but the Sony SmartWatch does, and without the inevitable accusations of fanboyism.

To prep his arm for the hardware upgrade, [justurn] had four titanium dermal anchors placed in his wrist. After letting his anchors heal for a few months, [justurn] installed very strong neo magnets in the bases for his anchors and the clip for the SmartWatch’s strap.

The result is a magnetically mounted, Android-controlled watch semi-permanently attached to [justurn] at the wrist. We love it too.