The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched its Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) program to understand the basic mechanisms linking neurostimulation to plasticity.
TNT aims to enlist the body’s peripheral nervous system to achieve something that has long been considered the brain’s domain alone: facilitation of learning. It will do so by indentifing optimal and safe neurostimulation methods for activating “synaptic plasticity”—a natural process in the brain, pivotal to learning, that involves the strengthening or weakening of the junctions between two neurons—then build those methods into enhanced training regimens that accelerate the acquisition of cognitive skills.
The goals of the program dovetail with Elon Musk’s new company, Neuralink but is distinct in approach. While Neuralink seeks to enhance human cognition using brain computer interfaces, the TNT program will investigate non-invasive peripheral methods.