Mind Control With Light
July 30, 2012 by Sam Rolley
Research reported recently in Current Biology says that scientists have successfully developed a method of mind control by using pulses of light to alter behavior in monkeys. The researchers say the method could also be used on humans.
The researchers say the findings represent a key advance for optogenetics, a state-of-the-art method for making connections between brain activity and behavior. Based on the discovery, similar light-based mind control could likely also be made to work in humans for therapeutic and other purposes.
“We are the first to show that optogenetics can alter the behavior of monkeys,” says Wim Vanduffel of Massachusetts General Hospital and KU Leuven Medical School. “This opens the door to use of optogenetics at a large scale in primate research and to start developing optogenetic-based therapies for humans.”
During the process, the researchers make brain neurons respond to light through the insertion of light-sensitive genes derived from particular microbial organisms. Earlier studies had primarily validated this method for use in invertebrates and rodents. But the latest study opens the doors for the process to be used on humans.
The researchers say that the process could have important clinical applications in treating Parkinson’s disease, addiction, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other neurological conditions. It will also broaden the understanding of human mind control.