Even two of humanity's most intimate possessions - a sense of self and a body image - are fluid, highly modifiable creations of the brain's mischievous deployment of electricity and a handful of chemicals. They both can change or be changed on less than a second's notice.
Essentially, all expressions of human nature ever produced, from a caveman's paintings to Mozart's symphonies and Einstein's view of the universe, emerge from the same source: the relentless dynamic toil of large populations of interconnected neurons.
It's the first time an exoskeleton has been controlled by brain activity and offered feedback to the patients. Doing a demonstration in a stadium is something very much outside our routine in robotics. It's never been done before.
There are several patients - there are thousands of patients, tens of thousands of patients, that carry either a stimulator in the brain or in the periphery, in the inner ear, to restore neurological functions or to control diseases like Parkinson's disease.
The kind of neuroscience that I do and my colleagues do is almost like the weatherman. We are always chasing storms. We want to see and measure storms - brainstorms, that is.
With its billions of interconnected neurons, whose interactions change from millisecond to millisecond, the human brain is an archetypal complex system.
In my view, while the single neuron is the basic anatomical and information processing-signaling unit of the brain, it is not capable of generating behaviors and, ultimately, thinking. Instead, the true functional unit of the central nervous system is a population of neurons, or neural ensembles or cell assemblies.
I think the word 'soul' - it depends on what you define by 'soul.' If you're defining it as a mystical aura that is outside the body, I cannot measure that. If you're talking about soul as human nature, the rank of spectrum of behaviors and reactions that we know humans produce under certain circumstances, that is measurable.
We cannot even predict what kinds of emergent properties would appear when animals begin interacting as part of a brain-net. In theory, you could imagine that a combination of brains could provide solutions that individual brains cannot achieve by themselves.
We started all this research way back in the early 1990s, developing a technique that allows us to record the electrical signals produced by neurons simultaneously.