Scientists use mind control to switch on genes
Swiss researchers say they've found a way to use brainwaves to activate specific genes in the body, the first proof of concept of a technology that could be used in the future to treat conditions like epilepsy and chronic pain.
Their study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used mice and people to see if the "mind control" process could work. First, they created a genetically engineered cell in which the presence of near infrared light "switched on" a gene, and that led to the production of a protein called SEAP. The scientists placed the cells in a chamber within a small implant that also contained a wirelessly controlled infrared light and inserted that under the skin of the mice.
Then, volunteers wearing headsets were asked to play a computer game called Mindflex, in which the movement of a ball is controlled by thought. When they concentrated on the game, the participants' brainwaves turned on a field generator under the mice, switching on the infrared light and initiating the generation of the protein.
The researchers believe the technology could one day help patients with conditions like epilepsy and chronic pain use their own brain power to control implants that dispense pain-relieving treatments.