Cyberspace and Neuroscience

Science fiction like Neuromancer calls for the interfacing between computers and the human brain. The novel describes electrodes that directly stimulate the appropriate part of the brain in order to evoke the desired simulated stimuli. Similarly the responses of the human are read directly by the computer through those same electrodes. Rather than the bulky awkward arrays of helmets and goggles of present-day virtual reality, Neuromancer depicts the direct interface between the computer and the brain.

What do we have to know before this is possible? Neuroscience must first understand the mechanisms by which the brain represents and processes information. In the past twenty years remarkable progress has been made in understanding the biological basis of learning and memory. Could understanding of consciousness be far off? To the present-day neuroscientist, this task seems insurmountable, and to some present-day philosophers, it seems impossible. If there is to be hope for the future of Neuromancer, we must first complete this task--only then can we hope to create computers that communicate by compatible methods.