Augmentation of the nervous system of a biological organism

Image from Keith Wigdor and Midjourney AI
Neurotechnology is the branch of technology dealing with technological augmentation to the nervous system of a biological sophont or other living creature. These augmentations often take the form of interfacing between the neurons of the subject and an external system of processors, or with external sensors and data receiving devices. In most cases the interface devices and at least some of the processing substrate are located inside the body of the subject; many users prefer to have no obvious signs of augmentation outside their body, although others accept (or even prefer) visible additions to their bodyplan.

Among the first applications of neurotechnology, developed during the Information Age and Early Interplanetary age, were neuroprosthetics; devices intended to replace a motor, sensory or cognitive capacity that have been damaged as a result of an injury or a disease. Visual or auditory prosthetics and a wide range of mobility devices were linked to and controlled by the nervous system of the user, and over time these applications became better than the natural capabilities of the human body.

Meanwhile a number of neural interfaces became available for users who were not impaired, including brain-computer interfaces that developed into Direct Neural Interface technology. As artificial intelligence improved in this period, a range of external AI applications became available, which could act as personal assistants and advisors to the user. The increasing sophistication of the linkage between these applications and the user's mind eventually allowed the development of a so-called exoself; a system so intimately linked to the user that it became part of their consciousness.


Many augmentations to the nervous system consist of biological or synanotech devices, generally well-integrated so that they become a part of the user's body. Somatic improvements to the nerves and other cells in the central nervous system allow faster processing and information flows, as well as faster reflexes, improved cognition and a range of new capacities not possessed by baseline humans. Many somatic genetic augmentations to the nervous system are designed to improve the interface route between internal and external processors; often a user's body will react against pure hylotech implants whereas they will tolerate biotech more readily.

Neurotechnological provolution

As well as genetic engineering, neurotechnology has an important role to play in the process of raising non-sophont organisms towards sentience. Early efforts to provolve dogs included direct neural interfacing between the animals and their masters, allowing a two-way flow of information that eventually became an ability to use complex language. Similar augmentics assisted early elephant and cephalopod provolution attempts. In more recent milllenia, the role of biological/information interfacing has allowed the provolution of many diverse species, including plants an a wide variety of xenobiota.

Image from Steve Bowers
  • Commclothing/Commskin  - Text by iancampbell
    Commclothing or commskin addresses a problem with high levels of computational technology, and specifically direct neural interfacing: the problem of getting large amounts of data in and out of a sophont's body, whether a biont or a vec.
  • Direct Neural Interface (DNI)  - Text by Ad Astra, updated by Ryan B
    Ubiquitous technological implant for connecting a sophont's brain to their exoself, the Net, nearby artifacts, and other beings.
  • DNI Death Cults  - Text by Mike Parisi
    Subcultures where the experience of death is shared via direct neural interfacing.
  • Exocortex  - Text by Avengium
    External processing systems linked intimately to a user's mind.
  • Exoself  - Text by Anders Sandberg; modified by Steve Bowers, Updated by Ryan B (2017)
    Systems linked to the self in a cooperative way, extending the mind and the body. Especially used about the systems supporting an uploaded personality, providing information, virtual reality and monitoring.
  • Happy Tongue - Text by John B
    Common device used by those who can't afford good tasting food. It is a nanotech dose that coats the throat, palate, teeth and tongue to simulate the texture and flavor of a preferred food. It is usually available in week-long doses, but permanent implants are also available for an increased cost.
  • Mindhacker - Text by John B
    Illegal profession in many if not most clades or polities. Specializes in extracting information from the mental processes of a target sophont. The best mindhackers can extract full information replicas without the target recognizing this, but that is exceedingly rare without a transapient intellectual rating. Mindworker profession.
  • Mindjacking  - Text by Michael Beck
    Obtaining control over somebody's mind by hi-tech, ultratech or transapientech methods.
  • Mindlet - Text by Fernando Peña D'Andrea
    Small program that runs on hosts mind or hosts brain's plug-in hardware. Used to perform several tasks that are server-specific in several virch environment, like authentication. Some servers will require such authentication even before letting the mind make contact with their internal environment, and thus upload such applets.
  • Mindworker - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Diverse superfield of expertise pertaining to working with the psyche of a sentient being. Includes practical psychology, psycho-sociology, memetic engineering, and many other fields and subfields.
  • Neuro-fractal Patterning  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Science of using fractal patterns to influence the emotional or physical states of intelligent entities.
  • Neuronaut - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminology
    A biont who explores eir own neural functioning and internal mentational processes by various means, including deep introspection and meditation, psychoactive drugs, mind machines, and neuroscientific understanding.
  • Neuropsychism, Neurochauvinism  - Text by Terrafamilia
    The belief in the superiority of biological brains (literally, superiority of neurons).
  • Neuropsychological Engineering  - Text by Ryan B (Rynn)
    Amending and improving the psychological state of a biological individual through neurotechnology
  • Olfactory Array  - Text by Johnny Yesterday
    A device used to detect volatilized and fluid-phase chemical compounds suspended in air, or another fluid medium
  • Rinomolitic Matrix  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev based on original idea by Kevin Self
    A self-reproducing crystalline matrix that has the ability to interface with a sentient nervous system and enhance its cognitive abilities. The substance is a nano-lifeform, a kind of wild nanocomputer apparently designed for interfacing, originally discovered on Kariton.
  • Technotelepathy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Steve Bowers
    Use of commlinked technoetics to enable two (or more) entities to experience the same sensorium and stream of consciousness, sometimes without the knowledge of one (or more) parties.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 01 January 2007.