Kung Fu
I know Kung Fu: People may soon be able to use technology to learn skills Warner Bros

Brain technology could be used to learn new skills in the style of science fiction movie The Matrix, scientists claim.

New research published in the journal Science suggests that people's abilities and skills could be improved by using technology to replicate brain activity patterns, with no physical effort required.

Experiments conducted at Boston university and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, found that brain patterns could be controlled through a person's visual cortex, thus improving performance on visual tasks.

Researchers say it is theoretically possible for a person to watch a skill being performed while having their brain patterns modified to match what they are seeing.

The technique, which uses decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging, was found to improve visual performance even when a person was not aware of what they were doing.

Although the research is exciting, ATR lab director Mitsuo Kawato said that the idea of "downloading" skills in an instant is a long way off.

"In theory, hypnosis or a type of automated learning is a potential outcome," he said.

"However, in this study we confirmed the validity of our method only in visual perceptual learning. So we have to test if the method works in other types of learning in the future. At the same time, we have to be careful so that this method is not used in an unethical way."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of health and the ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan.