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Brain/Computer Interface

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"I think, and my thoughts cross the barrier into the synapses of the machine — just as the good doctor intended. But what I cannot shake, and what hints at things to come, is that thoughts cross back. In my dreams the sensibility of the machine invades the periphery of my consciousness. Dark. Rigid. Cold. Alien. Evolution is at work here, but just what is evolving remains to be seen."
Commissioner Pravin Lal, "Man and Machine", Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

In many Cyberpunk works and occasionally other sci-fi, technology is typically very advanced. Since convenience is highest priority and The Singularity is looming, it's natural to assume that the next big thing thing is embedding cables into your skull and synching your brain with a computer; since a keyboard or mouse can be cumbersome and slower than human thought, it's natural to assume that implants, headbands or helmets will be next to hit the shelves.

Of course, this frequently comes with the benefits and risks of computers albeit inside a person, so expect human backups, self-enhancement, life hacking, people viruses, and Mind Rape among other things.

In a few cases, the use of such interfaces may be limited to cyborgs or aliens or the genetically engineered. If everyone has one, there's a good chance you're looking at a Mind-Control Device or even an artificial Hive Mind.

Sub-trope of Unusual User Interface. See Electronic Telepathy if it has wireless capability. Not to be confused with, though frequently used for, Neural Implanting, which is where data or skills are inserted into a person's brain.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Future GPX Cyber Formula, the Al-Zard NP-1 is a bio-computer that helps its pilot drive better by basically controlling his every action.
  • In Ghost in the Shell, a number of characters, including the Major, have ports implanted onto their bodies (typically at the back of the lower neck/upper shoulders) that allow a direct connection between the brain and virtual reality; Batou and Ishikawa both use said ports to override movement through the brain and temporarily disable people. The external ports are part of what the series refers to as a cyber-brain, a complex series of interfaces connecting directly to the brain. The external ports are mostly used for high bandwidth and/or more secure connections, while virtually every character has a wireless connection as well. The sheer ubiquity of the technology, at least in Japan, is what makes skilled hackers like the Puppetmaster, the Laughing Man and the Major herself so potentially dangerous.
  • Gundam:
    • Shows taking place in the Universal Century have the Quasi-Psycommu system, which was meant to allow a normal human being to mimic the Electronic Telepathy of the standard Psycommu, which required a Newtype to use. It was partially successful, allowing normal humans to thought control wire-guided Attack Drones, but very inefficient and unstable, meaning it was ultimately scrapped.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing has the ZERO System, which feeds data directly into the pilot's brain and reacts to his decisions practically at the speed of thought. Unfortunately, if you don't have immaculate focus, it drives you crazy.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans features the Alaya-Vijnana System, spinal implants that allow the user to connect directly with a mobile suit to improve reaction time and spatial awareness. It's an interface that grows with the pilot, so it has to be put in when they are extremely young, and the procedure has a high rate of failure, generally resulting in spinal injuries, para- or quadriplegia, or even death. While the implants are severely taboo on Earth (to the point where most people treat those with implants as if they aren't even human anymore), less ethical groups like the Chryse Guard Security and Brewers will "adopt" kids and force them to undergo the surgery, abandoning them on the streets if the process fails. In the climax of the first season, after Ein Dalton's body is mangled beyond repair by Mikazuki, he agrees to a procedure that hooks his brain directly into a Super Prototype dubbed the "Graze Ein", meaning that he effectively is the Mobile Suit.
      • The show goes on to reveal that there are significant Power Limiters in place to protect the pilot's brain, but this is seemingly dependent on the user; in one episode, Mikazuki's default settings for the Barbatos are so high that when another member of Tekkadan tries to pilot the machine, it overloads his brain and renders him temporarily comatose. Three times during the series (versus the Graze Ein, versus the Hashmal, and during the final battle), Mikazuki deliberately disables the limiters to get maximum performance out of the Barbatos, which results in his losing the use of parts of his body (his right eye and arm the first time, his legs the second time), though when he's hooked into the system, they function just fine. In the last instance, he overclocks the system when he's already mortally wounded, meaning his Gundam seemingly keeps fighting for a few minutes before his enemies cut open the cockpit and realize that he's already dead.
      • The second season introduces a couple of variations on this: McGillis Fareed used the data gathered from Ein Dalton's procedure to get an A-V implant despite the fact that he's an adult, letting him pilot Gjallarhorn's "sword in the stone" Gundam Bael. Meanwhile, Gaelio Baudin had Ein's brainnote  installed into his pilot suit, allowing him to hand over control of his Gundam to Ein; this version is officially dubbed "Ālaya-Vijñāna System Type-E".
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury heavily involves the GUND technology, cyborg prosthetics designed to help with life in space, and its militarized counterpart the GUND-Arms (also known as, as you can expect, "Gundam") attempting to use the same tech to interface people to giant robots. Unfortunately, while this does allow the pilot to bring out unprecedented strength from a mobile suit and enables the use of far superior Attack Drones compared to conventional systems, it's also very, very unsafe. The engineers of the Vanadis Institute were still in the middle of figuring out how to draw a decent amount of power without frying the pilot's brain when the GUND-Arms tech was declared illegal due to, well, all the fried brains. A major portion of the story deals with the mystery of Gundam Aerial’s ability to use this technology without frying people’s brains. It involves having at least twelve copies of the brain patterns of a four year old girl.
  • Kogarashi from Kamen no Maid Guy serves as a comedic example of this. He manages to print a crystal clear picture from a printer by plugging the USB cord into his ear. Which is just silly: the human ear is an input-only channel!
  • Macross:
    • One of these was part of the prototype YF-21 "Sturmvogel" in Macross Plus. The interface worked but was found to be unable to distinguish between a pilot's imagination and direct mental commands. At one point, the pilot accidentally nearly totals another plane by only considering "If I were to apply downward thrust right now, that plane would be destroyed"... and his plane immediately reacts as though that was an order. This unreliability of the interface, not to mention the intense mental discipline needed by the pilot, leads to the idea being scrapped. The production model VF-22 "Sturmvogel II" lacks any such system.
    • Macross Frontier: The VF-27 "Lucifer"-class fighters have a thought-controlled interface for use by cyborg pilots. Non-augmented pilots can still use standard controls, but they aren't as efficient.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico achieves this effect with Nanomachines allowing the pilot to interface directly with the mecha. These are also the control medium for larger military vehicles and a lot of civilian equipment in the Martian colonies. For once, there are no major downsides (it's the other nanomachines that you have to look out for), and it is in fact relatively easy to get the nanomachine injection if you're already in the military.
  • Moonlight Mile: Some robots secretly developed by the U.S. military use this for operations. Maggy has to use one to rescue astronauts after a space debris disaster. The interface almost ends up overloading their brain and killing them.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Eva units are controlled with a direct neural interface with their pilots, via the LCL and the A10 nerve clips (those joysticks are just for fine manipulation and weapons control which are properly not even necessary with a high enough sync-rate). Side effects may include sympathetic pain and injuries in direct proportion to the synchro-rate, the Evas going into sudden unstoppable rampages, being a helplessly immobile and vulnerable sitting duck at very low synchro-rates, or melting into LCL due to a very high synchro-rate. Reasons #527, 528, and 529 why it sucks to be an Eva pilot.
  • In Robotech and the source material for the second saga (namely Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross), this is one of the reasons why the Bioroid are so hard to take down — being thought-controlled, they're far nimbler than the human mechs that they're facing, and the multiple redundancies in the system mean that the only swift way to take one down is Sniping the Cockpit. In Jack McKinney's tie-in novels, Earth mecha have a similar system, the Thinking Cap. Said system is not present in the series, as shown in all sagas (in which the control systems are seen multiple times) and outright stated in the second saga (in which the traditional controls are contrasted with the Bioroids').
  • Lain gets a direct neural interface in Serial Experiments Lain: she plugs herself to her Navi by sticking electrodes on her body and plugging them into the USB ports.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman storyline Blind Justice'', Bruce Wayne shuts down a project at Wayne Enterprises that was working on something like this. When Bruce is so badly injured by an ambush that he can't act as Batman, he ends up getting a man named Roy to take over using the device.
  • Dynamo Joe has Data Com One, a paraplegic whose brain is linked to a military computer, making him a brilliant strategist.
  • Cyberjack-style interfaces are common in Finder, and vary in complexity, from student-level jacks to full-immersion interfaces. Marcie's student jack makes it for medical computers to directly monitor her condition and influence her treatment. She can also use it to interface with computers, mentally conduct Instant Message conversations and learn skills quickly (albeit unpleasantly; Marcie runs away screaming when Lynne offers to teach her to read via hookup). Movie theaters take advantage of this by including sensory enhancements and "mood tracks". In the Dream Sequence storyline, the narrator has a full-immersion connection as a job perk, which allows his employer to physically pack employees like sardines, while they experience a lush virtual office setting. The plot revolves around a virtual theme park/MMORPG whose creator hosts the world inside his fully networked brain (which, of course, goes horribly wrong).
  • In Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus uses one of these to control his mechanical arms.
  • Superboy (1994): Kossak's slave ship is partially run/powered by a group of slaves who've been hooked into the ship's "mind bank".
  • In Superman continuities where Brainiac isn't a robot himself, this is what the diodes on his head are used for.
  • Transmetropolitan has a "phone trait" that uses an imaginary keyboard; one time, Spider uses his to transfer some incriminating photos over the phone lines.
  • As of Wonder Woman (Rebirth), Byrna Brilyant modified her own cerebellum in order to plug herself right into her "Blue Snowman" mecha and have better more natural control over it.

    Fan Works 
  • In Mass Effect: End of Days, this is an integral part of Alliance society. The Council finds the extent of the use of it... disturbing.
  • In Tiberium Wars, the Nod Avatars are presented as having a powerful mind/machine interface, with the pilot existing in a sort of dream-like state where the operator shares operations with a cold, mechanical A.I. that helps them perceive their surroundings, which comes in as a constant stream of pure data and filtered into an alternate virtual reality for the pilot.
  • What Tomorrow Brings: Since Yeerk computers are based on Andalite ones, Andalites are able to control them using their minds in a similar manner to thought-speech.

    Films — Animation 
  • Big Hero 6 has the microbots being controlled by a headband neural interface, which Yokai incorporates into his kabuki mask.
  • Futurama: In "Bender's Big Score", Hermes Conrad's disembodied head is hooked up to the network for the Earth's forces, allowing him to control the entire fleet in perfect coordination against the Scammer Aliens' defenses.
    Hermes: Professor, can you wire my head directly into the main battle-net?
    Professor Farnsworth: I can wire anything directly into anything! I'm the Professor!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The planet Pandora in Avatar is host to a giant organic computer network comprised of the nervous systems of all flora and fauna on the planet. The resident sapient species, the Na'vi, can link their own nervous systems into this network via a ponytail-like organ, enabling them to store and retrieve information, communicate across great distances, or gain control over nearby wildlife.
  • eXistenZ has biological computers which interface with the user through plugging a very phallic tentacle into a port in the base of the spine. The movie plays this for all it's worth, even having characters lick the ports of other characters during sex scenes.
  • The Matrix has every human used by the machines outfitted with a port in the back of the skull to plug into the Matrix. In Zion, humans with the port are plugged into a machine that apparently lets them manipulate a huge 3-D computer interface. Non-vat-grown humans can't get one installed, either. This means that natives of Zion, or in other words the grown-up children of Matrix escapees, have to content themselves with either flying the hovercraft, or playing "Operator", which means plugging people into the Matrix, getting them out, and giving them weaponry while they're in there. Well, in theory they could give them anything, but it's often guns. Lots of guns.
  • RoboCop: The title character's "neural spike" is a small spike embedded in his wrist that he can use to interface with computers and navigate through them with his mind alone. Apparently, every computer in Detroit has a port included specifically for him. We never see anyone else use the same port. It also becomes a handy Improvised Weapon in his first movie.
  • In Saturn 3, brain stem interfaces are placed in all human "instructors" of the Demi-god series of robots, allowing direct connection via radio waves to upload instructions/training. Apparently, they are kept in those who wash out of the training program, allowing the insane Captain Benson to take the place of the legitimate operator. As a result, the robot Hector, whose brain consists of living tissue, takes on his insanity and lust for Alex. Later, Hector kills Benson and implants the interface in Alex's partner Adam, not to put anything into his head, but to take something out.
  • Sleep Dealer uses this frequently, and most people work by controlling machines through brain-computer interfaces.
  • In Strange Days, virtual reality is someone else's reality. Using SQUID technology that records and plays back thoughts and sensations, voyeurs relive parts of other people's lives — sometimes with deadly results. The SQUIDs operate using a brain-computer interface.
  • Upldr has the protagonist working to develop this technology that enables people to upload or download brains.

  • Agent G and all the other Corporate Samurai Professional Killer types in the International Refugee Society have an IRD implant as part of their standard cybernetics package. They allow human beings to store their memories, interact with computers directly, and properly manage their cybernetics. It's subverted when G discovers that he doesn't have one, since his entire brain is a computer due to being a bioroid rather than a "real" cyberized human.
  • Animorphs has these on the bug fighters and other alien craft. Ax makes a comment about human computers being so primitive that they don't have a decent psychic link.
  • Archangel Protocol: The LINK brain implant is done at birth, and gives access to the VR internet, or LINK, when it is activated at 18. And, of course, it is permanently disabled if a person is excommunicated or an atheist. All commerce and communication is done via the LINK, and once cut off, the last recourse is MouseNET, the hacker Mouse's free part of the LINK, and what remains of the old, unregulated internet. Comparatively low in bandwidth compared to the rest of the LINK, Russia's entire economy runs via MouseNET.
  • Renos in Aristoi, which partially inspired the mesh inserts in Eclipse Phase.
  • In Bounders, the titular Designer Babies were bred to have the ideal brain structures to master bounding gloves, which allow a person to teleport from one location to any other location, instead of from specific launch sites. When a new user puts on the gloves, they establish a cerebral link to the user. After that, they can be controlled with thoughts.
  • A key plot point in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner, coming in the form of "Neuro Headsets".
  • In The Conquerors Trilogy, the Copperheads are controlled through a jack in the back of the heads of the pilot and tail gunner, with the interface basically mapping the fighter's functions to a virtual human body. Damage is represented by smell and color (the obvious choice of pain presumably being too distracting), weapons by the user's fists, and so forth.
  • Telepathy runs computers in The Culture. More specifically, super-advanced A.I.s run the computers and neural interfaces are simply the fastest way to speak to the A.I.s. There's also the mental images used to control the biological implants and drug glands.
  • In Cyborg IV, the fourth Cyborg novel by Martin Caidin, the experimental combat spacecraft flown by Steve Austin uses an experimental brain/computer interface that merges the human and machine into one mind. Since it's an experimental prototype being used only as an emergency measure, no one knows what will happen when the interface is turned off.
  • Such interfaces are noted in passing in A Fire Upon the Deep. They don't work very well below the High Beyond, but their users still don't like taking them off.
  • Michael Scott's Gemini Game features the standard "big plug on the back of the neck" and headband-based video game ports.
  • The Genesis Machine by James P. Hogan includes the BIAC (Bio Inter Active Computer) which is controlled via a direct neural interface with its operator(s).
  • In Heart of Steel, Cyborg Alistair Mechanus has a mental interface with his island's computer network through his cybernetic implants. However, he can't access it without the A.I. Arthur, as he discovers when Arthur is taken out.
  • The History of the Galaxy: Most humans are fitted with a neural implant at birth which is used to translate thoughts into wireless signals. They're mainly used for identification and appliance control, but also used to enter virtual reality. Some people voluntarily (and some not so voluntarily) undergo implantation of additional implants that effectively turn them into hackers that don't need a computer. They can even access a person's neural implant and fry his or her brain. Want to use a gun on them? Better use an ancient one that shoot bullets and has no electronics. Regular EM guns with computer chips inexplicably stop working when faced with a "cybreaker".
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Infinidum Enterprise's Computer Terminals in the Hitchhiker's Guide buildings. There is a quote explaining how they're not a 'clunky typewriter in front of a television set' but rather a brain-computer interface thing.
  • In Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, all operators have quantum processors in their heads called navi, which only they can use thanks to their unusual neurology. A navis is connected to its user's brain via thousands of tiny needles through the skull, and its blue glow is visible through the skin of the forehead, making it easy to tell who's an Operator. A navis helps control its user's movements, blocks out unnecessary sensory input, and comes up with socially appropriate things to say. It also serves as a personal computer used to access Memspace and make complicated calculations. The three murder victims were killed by having their navi forcibly ripped from their skulls.
  • Incandescence: Rakesh and Parantham each have one, when they're using a physical body. Exactly how it works isn't explained, but they use it to communicate with each other and interface with different kinds of technology, including a Remote Body.
  • Incarceron has the Glove, which allows one of the characters to pull a Grand Theft Me on the artificial intelligence it interfaces with.
  • Manna has the interface imbedded to everyone in Australia. Some use it to alter their perception of reality to what they desire (e.g., masking technology). Also, it's designed to dampen crime to prevent causing harm to others.
  • In Marîd Audran, this is mainly used with the customized portable devices called "moddies" (personality overlays used for entertainment) and "daddies" (add-ons that provide specific skills, like languages or technical expertise). Many people have sockets in their head for at least one moddy and a couple of daddies. The sockets can also be connected to more general-purpose computers and multi-player video games.
  • The Bremen Chip from MARZENA is inserted via the nasal cavity into the thalamus (the processor of the senses and the origin point of consciousness) and allows its users to connect wirelessly to computers, or even to merge minds with G-Net A.I.s or people who also have the chip implant. Communication between two brains can be tricky, though, and usually requires a middle brain for the translation of brain activities (unless they are identical).
  • The Dean Koontz novel Midnight 1989 features people who are mutating in bizarre ways. A 'popular' mutation is growing a computer interface, and when one such person dies the computer freaks out and starts 'screaming' about missing the rest of it. Another person melds with his car in a similar way.
  • Neuromancer practically invented this trope, especially as regards the Cyberpunk genre.
  • This is what the titular Nexus 5 does for a human in The Nexus Series. Nexus allows nanomachines to bind to the human brain and map itself into a usable architecture during a psychedelic "calibration phase". Afterwards, anyone running Nexus can communicate entire emotions, ideas, and memories to anyone else with the architecture. This doesn't even touch on what happens if someone has a back-door.
  • Nova features a technology in which people have neural wrist- and neck-plugs installed so that they can control a wide variety of gadgets, from vacuum cleaners to starships. This style of interface is so pervasive that individuals who do not want to receive the implants are effectively unable to use any remotely sophisticated equipment.
  • Pilgrennon from Pilgrennon's Children bred the titular Designer Babies to be autistic, as he believed that all autistics had an affinity for computers, and inserted computer chips that allow them to communicate directly with other computers into their brains while they were still in the womb. Results vary — Alpha suffered severe brain damage and for years lost her ability to act except on other people's orders and Peter suffers from Power Incontinence that requires him to wear a Viking helmet so that he won't destroy every piece of machinery around, while Dana learned how to control her abilities and become a Technopath.
  • An ex-military space pilot in Katherine Kerr's Polar City Blues has a (sealed-over) port in her head from interfacing with the ships that she flew.
  • Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury is set in a future that's inspired by Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series, re-imagined for the 1990s. Brain-computer interfaces are ubiquitous, and are used to explain several phenomena that Asimov attributed to Psychic Powers.
  • This is the unique ability of the Bishops in Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner. Their cybernetic implants enable the Bishops to connect their brains to the terminals, allowing them to upload their memories for shared viewing or access the Church's databases without the need of an interface.
  • Rebuild World: Not only omnipresent, but takes different forms.
  • Relic Master includes the Coronet, which jacks the user's brain into the Weather Control Machines.
  • In the Revelation Space Series, brain-computer interfaces used to be common, but then the Melding Plague Grey Goo showed up and ruined everything. The Gunnery interface on the Nostalgia for Infinity requires implants that makes the user visualize themselves as the 4-kilometer-long starship when sitting in the Gunnery control chair.
  • The Schizogenic Man: In preparation for Mental Time Travel, Heron's brain is connected to the supercomputer MEQMAT via electrodes.
  • The end of John D. MacDonald's 1950 short story "Spectator Sport" has a squick-inducing description of the protagonist being hooked up to a Lotus-Eater Machine, including the skin being flayed from his palms and feet so they can be grafted directly onto the feedback pedals.
  • Space Academy: Vance Turbo has one of these that allows him to instantly communicate with Trish, the ship's AI. They're implied to be uncommon but not especially noteworthy among crew.
  • The Starchild Trilogy has a very early example (from two decades before Cyberpunk became a genre). Unusually located directly on the forehead, "communion plates" are how the most advanced technicians work with the Planning Computer. The communion plates can also induce Electric Instant Gratification to ensure the devotion of the technicians to the computer.
  • Multiple variants appear in the Sword Art Online/Accel World universe.
    • NerveGears are bulky, head-concealing helmets that use some kind of microwave transmitter to intercept signals between the brain and the body, providing the user with a perfect virtual reality environment in a process called FullDive. First appeared in 2022.
    • AmuSpheres are visor-like devices that are essentially a far more compact NerveGear with significant improvements in user safety. For that reason, the two are fully inter-compatible. Appeared sometime during 2023.
    • The Medicuboid is a medical device used for terminal patients that not only allows them a higher quality of life through VR, but also uses stronger electromagnets than NerveGears to stop spinal reflexes, making it an effective alternative to traditional anesthesia.
    • Brain Implant Chips are small devices permanently installed beneath the dura mater. They were the first devices to feature Augmented Reality in the form of an Unusual User Interface where the user uses hand gestures to manipulate interface elements that only he can see but are also illegal due to the risk of brain hacking and exam cheating. It also hides the user from Brain Burst matching lists but at a cost: if BB is uninstalled, the chip dissolves into the cerebrospinal fluid.
    • The NeuroLinker is the legal successor of the BIC: a small, choker-like device worn around the neck that provides both Augmented Reality and FullDive. Unlike the BIC, NeuroLinkers are completely non-invasive and can be taken off with no ill effects. Completely ubiquitous by 2046.
  • This Alien Shore: As required by law, everyone has brainware implanted in their skulls at birth that they can use to watch movies, play games, and message each other without moving.
  • In To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, both information and entertainment are delivered via implants, which the protagonist, Kira, sorely misses when the alien Soft Blade's interface with her destroys them. Hers are limited, but those with more money can get ones that deliver a "full-sense recording" experience, with touch, taste and smell.
  • In the Uglies series, the Specials have this. In the fourth book, Extras, everyone has these.
  • This is required for the handless neo-fins to use tools in the Uplift series, usually linked to a harness with prosthetic arms and other tools, though they also use them to control vehicles and fly spaceships. Many humans have similar sockets for similar reasons. The book is also a primer on the risks of such interfaces with one character suffering brain damage from electrocution through their socket and another physical injury when an interface plug is forcibly yanked out in an ultralight airplane crash.
  • Valhalla: "Links" are common in 2230 to hook users directly into the internet. Most citizens have small antennae behind their ears that facilitate immersion or consultation of the internet.
    • There is also a colony of humans founded by those who have been subjects of genetic experimentation and have additional glands that emit and receive infrared signals that interface with any device that has an IR port (in this 'verse, nearly all computers have one). This is the biological version of a neural implant.
    • A more direct approach involves plugging a cable into a port in one's temple, which people get at the same time as the implant. The port is normally covered by false skin.
  • In the Xandri Corelel series, most people have technology that can be activated neurally. Xandri doesn't because her unusual neurology works badly with computers — the last time she tried using a brain-computer interface, her wristlet started blaring out a lecture on the breeding habits of naba eels in the middle of an important debriefing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Andromeda, Seamus Harper has a data port in the side of his neck, which allows him to plug into and interface with computer systems. Later on, he plugs a tesseract into the same port, which allows him to pass through solid objects.
  • The skin of the advanced Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (2003) is light-sensitive. If they have to use primitive fiber-optic cables, they can (painfully) insert that cable into their forearm to interface with computers (but they have to make an incision first). Typically, on their own ships, they can interface with the system by putting their hands in a stream of luminous water called the "datastream". It's unclear if there are electrical or biochemical transmitters to go with the light-based data connection, but it sure looks cool, especially with nearby displays that show oddly familiar data glyphs in a falling pattern. It helps that they're Artificial Humans.
  • The Doctor Who episode "The Long Game" has people installing ports in their foreheads.
  • In Farscape, unlike normal Leviathans, Talyn is designed to implant a Peacekeeper pilot with an implant in the base of the neck that connects their nervous systems wirelessly.
  • The entire premise of Intelligence (2014) is that U.S. Cyber Command has installed a wireless-enabled computer chip in Gabriel Vaughn, a former Delta Force operator, to create "the next generation of intelligence".
  • Look Around You (series 1) parodies this with EBEs, Electronic Brain Enhancements, chips that students can plug into their heads to help with their revision but which they can become addicted to.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "The Light Brigade", the Chief Weapons Officer has an ocular implant which allows his brain to connect to the computer of the Light Brigade and arm the subatomic bomb.
    • A slight variation occurs in "In Our Own Image", since it involves an interface with the optic nerve as opposed to the brain directly. The android Mac 27 has a device which can connect his neural net to Cecilia Fairman's optic nerve so he can show her recordings and recreations (in other words, clips from previous episodes) contained in his memory files.
  • An extremely primitive example compared to most, but Root gains one of these in Person of Interest. After an involuntary stapectomy, she gets a cochlear implant that serves as a constant link to the Machine.
  • In Red Dwarf, in a TV episode and expanded for the novelization, the computer game "Better Than Life" works on this principle — terminally addictive total virtual reality.
  • Prior to the events of Space: 1999, computer specialist David Kano took part in an experimental program to link the memory and calculating powers of a computer to the thinking ability of a human brain via fiber-optic sensors implanted in his cerebral cortex. The only time this is demonstrated is in "The Guardian of Piri", in which it is shown to be an unpleasant and uncomfortable procedure. It is revealed that he was the only one of the four test subjects who did not suffer permanent brain damage.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, a lot of Ancient and Wraith technology is operated by thinking at it. Unfortunately, no matter how much you think at it, a Puddle Jumper won't make you a sandwich.
  • In Stargate SG-1, human-form replicators can interface with technology (particularly Earth computers) by sticking a body part, usually a hand, directly into the machine. Apparently, this also works on humans, as the human-form replicators can literally get inside their victim's heads (though it is not exactly painless for the victim).
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: The infamous episode "Spock's Brain" deals with Spock's brain being stolen from his body and hooked up to a computer that runs a complex on a nearby planet.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • Geordi La Forge's visor is an Everything Sensor that feeds information directly into his brain, often said to be more sensitive than the standard tricorder. He was born blind and was still blind without them, which makes this almost a Disability Superpower. It's shown that the pre-existing implants placed in his temples allow him limited forms of computer interface, with one episode allowing him to control a hazardous environment probe as though it was his own body. In Star Trek: First Contact, he moves on to using cybernetic ocular implants.note 
      • In the episode "The Nth Degree" Lieutenant Barclay hardwires himself to the computer of the Enterprise after having his intelligence greatly increased by Cytherians.
      • Data is able to connect to the Borg mainframe by wiring himself into the assimilated Picard's Borg implants in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II." With this direct connection Data is able to shut down the Borg, ending the immediate Borg threat when the shut down command activates the cube's self destruct mechanism.
      • Data is directly connected to the Enterprise computer by Commander Riker in the episode "Disaster" in order to stabalize anti-matter containment. This inspires LaForge and Data to launch a project to enable Data to directly connect to the main computer in emergency situations in the episode "A Fistful of Datas." During testing, though, the interface malfunctions, leading to a whole series of unintended consequences throughout the ship.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "A Simple Investigation" features a guest character with a data port behind her ear, which she can use to bypass security systems. The dialogue makes it sound as though they're relatively freely available but often very expensive (unless you want the cheap tech directly connected to your brain). It shows up again in "Honor Among Thieves" on a member of the Orion Syndicate. In both cases, the interfaces are very useful for getting into secure systems and data, but the drawbacks include nasty physical pain from being "spiked" by security features designed to counter just such breaches, to the point where the users risk permanent damage, paralysis, or even death. It's implied that the combination of their use for breaching security barriers and the associated dangers are the main reason that such implants are mostly used by criminals (and thus have a stigma attached to them).
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In the finale, Janeway returns from decades in the future to change the present, and she is implanted with a standard issue neural computer interface from the future.
      • In the episode "Alice", Tom Paris gets too close to an alien shuttle with a neural interface.

  • In Synchronize by, an inventor is building a mind-computer interface which works through the bloodstream in order to access the Dreamweb. The Agency likewise has built its own machine in 5ynchro0ni7e to destroy the Dreamweb, using expendable test subjects to attempt to access it — with explosive and bloody results — not realizing that the music of is the key to synchronizing with it. The Agency machine is described as pumping the test subjects full of a cryogenic compound.

  • In Bally's Xenon, people plug wires into jacks in their heads to interface with the titular supercomputer.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Alternity has an implant that allows a character to interact with compatible technology.
  • Present in BattleTech. Enhanced Imaging and the Direct Neural Interface are implants which basically allows the pilot to directly control the BattleMech with their mind, rather than with the standard joysticks and neuro-helmet. Protomechs all use this, as they're too small to fit a cockpit. The devices have a number of drawbacks, such as crippling withdrawal symptoms and causing the pilot to go slowly insane. For standard issue control interfaces in BattleMechs, however, the ubiquitous Neurohelmet is used, albeit only to balance the mech. Instead of invasive neurosurgery, all the neurohelmet requires is a clean haircut around the temples and a tolerance for a scalp-crawling sensation. Depending on the technological capacity of the time period that a neurohelmet was manufactured, neurohelmets can range from something the size of a real-life fighter helmet to giant bulky crude 10-pound monstrosities.
  • CthulhuTech: Engels. See Neon Genesis Evangelion above, without the synchronization, but with more invasive surgery and SAN checks.
  • In R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk, Interface Plugs allow the person implanted with them to connect to and control cyberdecks.
  • In Iron Crown Enterprises' Cyberspace, the Direct Neural Interface implant allows a person's brain to be hooked up to computers (such as a C Deck) with a DNI Cable.
  • Eclipse Phase:
    • Nearly all Morphs come standard with Basic Mesh Inserts (the Mesh being the post-Singularity version of the 'net).
    • The Access Jacks implant, which allows users to hook their brain to machines via fiberoptic cable, if you prefer your connection faster and impossible to intercept.
  • GURPS: Transhuman Space makes brain implants practically the only cybernetics still in common use.
  • The Neural Connectivity Suite in Hc Svnt Dracones replaces the user's cranium with a wireless computer that is capable of running various software and enables "telepathic" communication, along with upgrades like a wireless hub (that can intercept and redirect radio signals), or a hive node. Cogs can interface with machines by touching them but have no wireless capability without an NCS, and their Core Consciousnesses work sufficiently different from normal computers that they can't run software either.
  • In Rocket Age, the Ancient Martians used neural interfaces to interact with their war-walkers (something the Nazis have been quick to reverse engineer) and the Europans, the setting's most advanced race, have also developed something similar.
  • Shadowrun and nearly every work of Cyberpunk has the datajack, a port or wire usually somewhere on the side of the head to hook up to a computer. A cyberpunk character who can't "jack in" with a port in their head is not trying hard enough. There are non-invasive neural hoods that anyone can wear to interface with the Matrix, but they have a significant delay compared to a datajack.
    • Later games, however, have caught up with WiFi and made wireless the prime mode of interaction with the Internet. People still have ports in their head that connect to the web, they just don't require the cables.
  • In Cyberpunk 2020, neural interfaces for computers are common, usually consisting of a data wire plugging in to a specific device. It also works the other way: it's common to install data jacks that allow slotting a Skill Chip, which overrides your natural ability with a skill with the uploaded informationnote .
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Most vehicles and war machines are plugged directly into the pilot's brain, in a rather low-tech way.
    • The Bio-Augmentation process that turns ordinary men into Space Marines involves implanting a lot of extra organs. One of the most important ones is the Black Carapace. The Black Carapace is the interface between Space Marines and their iconic suits of Powered Armor.
    • Vanus Assassins are equipped with specialized augmetics that increase their brains' ability to absorb data and allow them to directly interface with computer systems and digital transmissions, essentially turning them into human computers.
    • Titan princeps use one to control the Titans, which leads to them identifying as the Titan as the Machine-Spirit takes over.
    • The Tau tried to create a pilot suit that would allow for better reflexes in battlesuit combat. Unfortunately, few pilots survived the experience without their brains frying.
  • The defining technology of the Savage Worlds setting Interface Zero is the Tendril Access Processor or TAP. A mix of cybernetic and biotech implant that turns the brain into a wifi router. Allowing everyone to stay connected wirelessly to the internet near constantly.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere has aircraft controlled in this manner, through an ENSI (Electro-Neuron-Synapse-Interface) that replaces the standard stick and throttle to allow the user to control the plane with their thoughts. The Super Prototype X-49 Night Raven uses an "Opto-Neuron-Synapse-Interface" instead, which requires some surgery on the user to connect first, and which artificially accelerates the brain's neural network to allow for greater combat performance, at the cost of increased mental strain on the user that can lead to brain damage. The system as a whole is known as COFFIN, or Connection for Flight Interface. Said acronym also lampshades the fact that COFFIN systems are mutually exclusive with ejection seats due to integrating the pilot so deeply with the plane that there's no time to safely unplug the pilot in case of an emergency.
  • In Beneath a Steel Sky, Robert Foster has to enter LINC Space via a surgically implanted Schreibmann port in the back of his head, in order to operate the LINC interface, which is essentially a chair with a huge cylindrical visor that drops down to link up with the user.
  • Taking inspiration from its tabletop roots, Cyberpunk 2077 sees people using cables in their wrists to interface with computers, as well as wirelessly transmit "quickhacks". "Shards" also allow people to download information directly into their brain by plugging them into slots located on their necks.
  • In Cytus II, 70% of the world's population have chips implanted behind their ears which allow them to connect to the Cyberspace world of Cytus. Aesir-FEST and Neko's stream both get targeted by cyber-terrorists, inflicting mild-to-moderate brain damage such as amnesia and comas on those affected.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • Deus Ex mentions an occipitalnote  jack in one in-game news article and an in-game email. Based on the context of the news article (the fact that a teenage girl has one is mentioned alongside having a tattoo and wearing black), these are looked upon negatively.
    • Early in Deus Ex: Human Revolution you encounter a "Purist" hacker with a "neural hub". The fact that an anti-aug terrorist has wires sticking out of his skull is one of the first major hints that something is up. Panchaea's supercomputer requires a set of spinal implants (as possessed by Zhao Yun Ru and the Hyron Drones powering it) to be directly accessed.
    • In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, investing Praxis into your Hacking skill tree upgrades Jensen's own neural interface, allowing it to use increasingly large parts of his brain for extra processing power when attacking "secure" devices.
  • The Dreamer consoles in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey.
  • This is pretty much the entire point of Dystopia. The players can jack into a 3D interpretation of a computer by mentally connecting to the computer through the cyberdeck in their heads. Of course, since they are putting their own minds inside the machine, they leave their real bodies vulnerable to attack.
  • In EVE Online, players fly their ships by being inside a pod full of goo with a neural interface which connects to the ship's systems and can easily be transferred between ships as well as ejected in the case of the ship's destruction (and if it is destroyed, a neural scan allows the player's mind to be transferred to a clone maintained at a station to cheat death). The interface allows a single person to control all of the ship's systems on any ship from a shuttle to a 20km long titan, with much faster reactions and better control than a human crew manually controlling it could have (NPC ships are controlled by crews, and with the exception of CONCORD, are relatively weak).
    • There is debate about whether ships flown by pod pilots actually have any crew at all or have completely automated systems, but it is normally accepted that smaller ships have none, while large ships have significantly smaller crews than would be needed without a pod pilot.
    • One of the Chronicles confirms that an Apocalypse battleship has over two thousand crew who go down with the ship.
  • The Evil Within 2: Everyone in the Mobius conspiracy has neural chips surgically jammed into their brains so they can remotely access the outer shells of the VR world STEM, see the world in augmented vision, and identify other agents, among other company perks. Unfortunately for them, even the chips that don't have bombs in them are neurologically sensitive enough to cause a lethal brain hemorrhage if they are hacked by someone controlling STEM.
  • Halo:
    • All members of the UNSC Armed Forces are equipped with a neural interface in the back of their skulls, primarily used for Identify: Friend/Foe purposes and Helmet-Mounted Sight integration, but also for data storage/networking. Additionally, advanced training simulators can feed simulated sensory inputs into their participants' neural interfaces to make their training scenarios more authentic.
      • Ship commanders such as Captain Jacob Keyes, meanwhile, have command neural interfaces for specialized information involved in their command. This becomes a major plot point in the first game and particularly its novelization The Flood, because this is how the Flood tried to lift the location of Earth from Keyes when they couldn't get it out of him directly.
      • Through a Spartan neural interface, Cortana increases the Master Chief's compatibility with his MJOLNIR armor and can have further access to his suit's systems. This is also for the most part how the MJOLNIR armor works in the first place, with the user moving the armor's limbs via thought (though it still requires Super Soldiers like the Spartans to wear and make use of it — regular soldiers who tested the initial versions of the armor essentially pasted themselves because the armor moved too fast).
    • The personal armor worn by all Forerunners includes a neurally-integrated computer system.
  • Having one of these installed is a requirement for becoming Unbound in the Homeworld universe. Mind Rape and worse is still a threat posed by a few sources, from the Beast to quite possibly the Taiidan Emperor.
  • The Hypnospace headbands of Hypnospace Outlaw are what happens when Incompetence, Inc. builds one of these with technology from The '90s, allowing people to browse the web while they sleep. Doctors have concerns, to say the least.
  • The pilots in Implosion use a neural link to download their minds into their WarMechs. The in-game explanation is that since the pilots aren't physically inside their battle suits, they're immune to viral infection from the alien XADA enemies. Too bad the XADA eventually figure out how to hack the link.
  • Near the end of Machinarium, you have to connect your brain with that of the huge-headed leader. You view his mind as a tiny-screened 8-bit game, with the objective of shooting out 33 viruses that were planted by one of the villains. Of course, everyone's a robot in this game.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, the Overlord system is a horrific example of this. In desperation, the lead scientist hooked up his autistic brother into the computer's mainframe, which drove him half insane in the process. That repeated static burst you hear is actually him screaming, "Please! Make it stop!".
    • In Mass Effect 3, the Geth use similar technology to allow Shepard to enter the Geth consensus, in order to de-bug the Reaper code that's infected their systems.
  • In Net:Zone, accessing Cycorp's Genecys Zone requires attaching a pair of electrodes to the user's forehead, which Newton Winters uses in the hopes of finding his missing father, Zel. When attached, the user goes into a coma while their mind enters the Genecys Zone. At the endgame, Walter Sayle exploits this connection by rigging Cycorp's main core to overload your interface, rendering you a brain-dead vegetable if you don't stop his plans in time.
  • In >OBSERVER_, anyone who has implants also have ID chips in the back of their heads. Observers, like Dan Lazarski, can use these to plug into peoples' heads and interrogate them from within. The effect is... strange, to say the least.
  • One Must Fall uses a variant: pilots of the setting's HARs aren't actually in the machine. Instead, they are remotely linked by virtue of a head-enclosing capsule that tracks and reacts to neuron activation using advanced chemical detection (and presumably some kind of shunt into the brain to read all these chemical signals). The device feeds these neuron responses directly into a transmitter, giving the robot motion guidance, while the robot's sensors send visual feedback (and apparently some degree of sensate feedback in the form of 'stun') to its pilots through the same interface. How the robot is able to chemically transmit this level of information is never clarified, but it is effective enough to be the most popular way to control a HAR. They tried an alternative once, and that ended very poorly.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri references a lot of this as part of the developments in Cyborg technology that the game explores. Two technological developments — Neural Grafting and Mind-Machine Interface — deal directly with these technologies. For some reason, the latter lets you build copters.
  • SOMA has the Pilot Seat, used with a VR visor to remotely pilot robots and other machines. It gets repurposed by the WAU to create brain scans from people using the seats and put them in robot bodies.
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), Dr. Octavius develops one to control his mechanical arms like in the comics, but it's faulty and its continued usage drives him insane, turning him into Doctor Octopus.
  • System Shock has the player character equipped with one that allows him to navigate computer systems like virtual 3D wireframe mazes. It's suggested to be military-exclusive equipment, but the player character obtains the implants illegally.

  • In 21st Century Fox, most personal computers are VR glasses that seem to respond to a combination of brain signals and voice control, offering a full sensory experience, while cyborgs may have a cortical jack. The same technology is later used for "o-Pods" that act as a virtual reality version of the iPod.
  • Bedivere in the Space Arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space has an I/O jack replacing his missing hand, largely for the sake of a pun.
  • Kimiko Ross from Dresden Codak has a jack in her upper back.
  • Occipital computers ("Ocks") are uncommon in Escape from Terra; they can also get a tangle-net upgrade.
  • Bennie, the robot pilot from Freefall, carries his brain/CPU around in a suitcase so he can plug it in to whichever plane he's flying.
  • The Cool Car driven by Gene Catlow and Catswhisker can be driven normally... or by thought. The latter method, however, proves difficult to operate.
  • From Girl Genius, the Throne of Faustus Heterodyne. It can be reasonably described as creepy.
  • Magience uses a "neuron entrainment" headset. It works even when the user is asleep.
  • Metompsychosis Union: Tilo has a wire behind his ear which he can pull out to plug into various computer ports.
  • In Not a Villain, Kleya uses a sophisticated brain-computer interface, but disguises it to conceal her identity.
  • Pilot: Robots are able to do this, allowing them to multitask. The titular Pilot uses it to both fly a plane and talk with passengers on the way.
  • Implants are fairly common in Quantum Vibe, though Beltapes typically don't get them as they were once enslaved using them. Nicole gets hers in order to download the basic skills to pilot a Helio-flyer, and notably jacks it into her flyer when a solar flare fries the normal controls.
  • In S.S.D.D., Tessa's squad have nanobot implants that are primarily used for Electronic Telepathy, though they can interface with some compatible technology such as their Powered Armor.
  • Terinu has the old "port in the head" method of cybernetic interface, but it's limited to expensive and specialized "Cybergliders" who run the risk of eventual brain damage even before you add in encountering hostile ICE. Everyone else sticks to either voice commands or keyboards.
  • In Umlaut House 2, most people have "Eye-fis".
  • xkcd shows us that some people are not going to wait for these interfaces to go mainstream.

    Web Original 
  • In Orion's Arm, most bionts have Direct Neural Interfaces or DNIs.
  • In Twig, Jamie, a boy with Photographic Memory, is regularly plugged into a set of large brains using a series of slots in his modified spinal column. The brains help him organize and process all the data he collects for later use.
  • In the Whateley Universe, more than one deviser goes with the datajack. Techno-Devil has a shaved mullet, with an exposed datajack on each side of his head. Jericho has one as well. Merry doesn't even need that much (she just has to be near a fast CPU hooked up to the internet, and her mind can literally dive into cyberspace). Since this is in fact her mutant power, it may be debatable if it fully counts for this trope, but it's the closest thing to the 'cyberspace experience' depicted in the various stories so far.

    Western Animation 
  • In Exo Squad, the E-frame steering is twofold: the ground movement (walking) is synchronized with the pilot's leg movements, but aiming and flying are controlled via "cyberjacks" connecting directly to the pilot's brain via a socket at the back of his/her neck.
  • In Megas XLR, Coop meets a future version of himself, and their future Kiva is hooked up to a machine through her brain.
  • In Regular Show, after Techmo fails to take down a virus with a super-hi-tech keyboard complete with double holo-Pads, he plugs himself into the computer in this manner. It doesn't quite go according to plan, though.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In the epiosde "Prototype", Sergeant Mills of the Metropolis police force is given a suit that gives him great power, which is controlled by connecting to M Ills' mind. This leads Mills to become aggressive and obsessive.

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Neural Interface