Mind control might be more than science fiction soon.
Before you start thinking of horrible scenarios in which people become mindless zombies under the government’s control, scientists are actually hoping they can devise a kind of mind control that can “treat cognitive deficits or enhance mental abilities.”1 You might be familiar with one type of mind control called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which is a treatment used for Parkinson’s Disease to reduce tremors. By manipulating certain parts of the brain with electric impulses, DBS can improve the lifestyles of many patients with a variety of disorders.2
Scientists that study mind control are called network neuroscientists, and they search for analogies to help them understand the brain. Since the Information Age started, one such analogy has compared the brain to a computer in the hopes of understanding its complex computations. Just as computers have extensive, mappable connections, scientists all around the world are searching for a complete map of the brain’s neural networks. Understanding such neural networks can allow for their manipulation: stimulating one network of the brain can influence another network of the brain and so on.1
However, many challenges come with this type of mind control. For one, it is hard to localize impulses and affect just one part of the brain due to the aforementioned networks. Secondly, researchers still need to improve the resolution of the energy used to induce currents in the brain. And third of all, there is a great deal of ethics involved with manipulating brain currents, as not much is known about neural networks in general.1 Who is to say what is ethical or not when toying with electrical impulses in the brain? How do we perfect the strategy? And if we don’t, what if we all turn into zombies?
While this is the worst case scenario (and highly unlikely), the technology of mind control itself is a fascinating concept. Mind control is not how we might have imagined it, and if we look past the zombie idea we can see that it has extensive therapeutic benefits.
- How Network Neuroscience Is Creating a New Era of Mind Control. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602695/how-network-neuroscience-is-creating-a-new-era-of-mind-control/ (accessed 11/4/16), part of MIT Technology Review.
- West, N. Mind Control Scientists Claim to Turn off Consciousness. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_brain67.htm (accessed 11/3/6), part of Biblioteca Pleyades.