Science and Tech


Think Mind Control Is Science Fiction? Think Again

Scientists have figured out how to use our brainwaves for everything from racing drones to restoring the function of paralyzed limbs.
Posted at 4:33 PM, Apr 26, 2016

Researchers are getting better at harnessing brain signals. These days, you can strap on a headset and control a drone with nothing but your thoughts.

"We have a computer program that you look at. We tell you, 'Think forward. Think about pushing a chair forward.' So we learn to navigate the drone based on your brain patterns for specific things you're thinking about," said University of Florida's Juan Gilbert.

And as mind-reading gets easier, there are more and more things that can be mind-controlled.

Hooking into the brain can restore old motor function. Doctors bypassed Ian Burkhart's damaged spinal cord and gave him control over his arm again. DARPA knows how to access the nervous system and restore a sense of touch to people with prosthetic limbs.

People can even control other people. Researchers at the University of Washington wired up two participants so one person could move another's arm just by thinking.

The scientists say that last one might eventually lead to transferring knowledge from brain to brain, "Matrix"-style.

This video includes clips from Coöperatie SURF / CC BY 3.0University of FloridaPBSThe Ohio State University Wexner Medical CenterDARPAUniversity of Washington and Warner Bros.