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Neo: Can you fly that thing?

Trinity: Not yet.
--The Matrix, immediately prior to "yet".

A trope where computer files, images, databases, or abilities are downloaded into a person's brain. Powers as Programs, Exposition Beam, Fake Memories, Upgrade Artifact, Amplifier Artifact, and Neuro Vault are fond of using this. Brain Uploading may result in this later on, but not always. May cause My Skull Runneth Over.

Examples of Neural Implanting include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Ghost in the Shell, large amounts of the populace of developed nations have cybernetically augmented brains, allowing them read and execute files, including fire-control software, text documents, images, videos, emotions, memories, and computer viruses. One notable instance has a character theorize a cyborg is downloading fire-control software in the middle of a fight, implying that to do so is a fairly common occurrence.
  • One side-character mage in Fairy Tail has this ability - he's not much good in a fight but marvellous at directing it, as he can download skills and even maps with waypoints into people's heads from a distance.

Comic Books

  • Prometheus, a villain of the DC Universe, invented a helmet that allows him to download into his mind the skills and abilities of anyone he has on record, as well as any knowledge he requires. He usually shows this off by beating the DC Universe's greatest martial artists (like Batman and Lady Shiva) by downloading their own skills and predicting their every move, while using another fighter's skills to do the job. Batman beat him by reprogramming the helmet with the fighting ability of Stephen Hawking.
  • Low Life's Dirty Frank did this once to gain musical ability in order to infiltrate a rock band.

Fanfic

  • Elspeth (Bella's daughter) in Radiance has the ability to replay her memories to anyone she touches. This later becomes more useful as she is blasted with the memories of hundreds of vampires, who each had thousands of years of experience.

Film

  • The Matrix tended to use this and Brain Uploading willy-nilly. Of course, when you have a giant jack in the back of your head, why not use it?
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Jobe in The Lawnmower Man initially boosted intelligence with smart drugs and virtual reality simulation/stimulation. He later also speed-read scientific research at blinding speeds, but fell back on VR programs for learning because reading wasn't fast enough for him.

Literature

  • In Neuromancer, quite possibly the Trope Maker, people can install knowledge and skills into their brains, such a chip allowing a person to speak perfect Chinese. Amusingly, they're called "microsofts".
  • The third book of the Young Wizards series combines this with Brain Uploading. Specifically, she had the Wizard's Manual uploaded into her mind. Her mind couldn't hold onto it for long, but while it lasted, she knew everything about magic.
  • In John Scalzi's ~Old Man's War~ universe, Colonial troopers have a computer implanted in their heads which can provide information about a wide variety of subjects. The Special Forces have this to a much greater degree, as almost all of their education is via this interface.
  • Featured in the somewhat obscure German SF series Ren Dhark in the form of 'mentcaps', small pills of alien origin that will upload information stored in them into the brain of the person who swallows them. They're used as a plot device to help the human castaway protagonists figure out all the other technology said aliens left behind on the planet they're stranded on. Noteworthy for the fact that if the implanted knowledge isn't actively used (and thereby presumably imprinted 'properly' on the user's brain through practice), it will fade over time.
  • The teen novel Feed uses this as a main plot point.
  • In Star Trek: String Theory, this is offered as an explanation for how Ocampa manage to function on the same level as other humanoids despite their brief (nine-year) lifespan. Because they have little time to assimilate new information and experiences, they instead "download" memories and skill sets from their ancestors through a natural process.
  • In the latter part of The Forever War this is done for both physical and mental skills; muscle memory is imprinted via 'negative kinetic feedback'.
  • Nexuses in Robert Reed's Great Ship series. The nexuses are small computers, which are implanted into one's body, or in the surroundings (such as in your house), and they are accessed for archived information or skills when needed.

Live Action TV

  • Chuck had a national intelligence database downloaded into the main character's brain. (initially via e-mail!)
    • Later on, he gets an updated version, which also includes a number of useful skills (such as martial arts), which he temporarily receives on cue.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, in the episode Spock's Brain, Dr. McCoy temporarily gains the ability to perform brain transplants through a "Teacher"
  • Harry from 3rd Rock from the Sun had a transmitter implanted in his head that basically made him the group's space radio.

  Harry: Incoming message from the Big Giant Head...

    • Harry's a somewhat unusual example of this trope because his implant is a large piece of physical equipment which takes up a lot of space, leaving room for only half a brain. As a result, Harry's markedly disadvantaged compared to the rest of the unit; he understands almost nothing, has poor coordination (causing him to frequently hurt himself) and is completely dependent on the others for survival. However, he's more talented at artistic things than any of them, and his helpless stupidity makes him very endearing and is probably one of the reasons he got more action than the others.
  • Variation: Merlin was given a mad skillz implant in his brain... through dragon magic.
  • In the fourth-season Six Million Dollar Man episode, "The Ultimate Impostor," Steve Austin's friend Joe Patton is a POW whose mind has been wiped to a blank slate by chemicals. This makes him the perfect test subject for a new OSI procedure to create the ultimate agent by downloading information and skills directly into his brain.
  • Adam gets one of these in the Doctor Who episode "The Long Game". In fact, everyone in the future had an implant that allowed rapid uploading of knowledge.
    • Also occurred in "Rise of the Cybermen" with the ear-pods. These were not implants, but still allowed for information to be downloaded directly into the brain. And for the baddie to mind-control the population.
    • In "The Next Doctor", Infostamps were more primitive data cylinders uploaded into a Cyberman's chest.
  • On Angel Charles Gunn becomes an expert on human and demonic law in a few hours thanks to Wolfram and Hart.
  • Part of the main premise of Dollhouse, with the dolls regularly having new memories and personalities downloaded and presumably various new abilities.

Tabletop Games

  • Shadowrun has Skillsofts, chips that can be inserted into implanted slots in the head to give characters skills.
  • Cyberpunk 2020 too. They have some limitations, however.
  • Instaskill nano from GURPS: Ultra-Tech rapidly reorganizes a person's brain to give them basic knowledge of a new skill.
  • Traveller, or at least the Mongoose edition, has Expert Programs that mimic skills and can be run on practically any computer or a specialized Wafer Jack implant.
    • In the GURPS version there is a social stigma against such things.
  • Eclipse Phase has both "skillsofts" run on nanites in the brain, and psychosurgery skill imprints.

Video Games

  • Serious Sam has an AI surgically implanted in the titular character's brain, which allows for later downloading of things such as maps and guides.
  • System Shock, System Shock 2, Bioshock, and Bioshock 2, all based on the Cyberpunk genre started by Neuromancer, make use of this trope.
    • The Bioshock games frame it as Lego Genetics, but the end result is pretty much the same.
  • While not essential to use Biotics in Mass Effect, Neural Implants exist to boost their power. In addition, there's a computerized memory implant that's a large part of a sidequest for a recruitable party member.
  • The I-Patch in Black Market is described as an implant drilled into the brain through the optic nerve. It presumably has quite a lot of memory space, since it stores a personality that can interface with other machines.
  • Deus Ex and its sequel Deus Ex Invisible War both have character with chips in their head and a radio link to receive info.
  • X-COM: Terror From the Deep: The aliens have implants in their skulls that are part of a communication/mind control network that is based on a strange technology called "Molecular Control". Aliens can download information, via their implants, from special Learning Arrays, and your soldiers can also view information stored in the implants of other aliens by using M.C. Readers.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In Joe 90, a computer is used to download recordings of other people's skills into Joe's brain.
  • Thailog is programmed using this in Gargoyles

Web Original

  • Several of the devisers in the Whateley Universe have done this. Jericho has a jack in his head for easier uploading, while Techno-Devil has two jacks, one on each side of his head, and a shaved mullet so they both show.
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