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Controlling Monkey Brains and Behavior With Light 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the they've-gone-completely-bananas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers reporting online on July 26 in Current Biology have for the first time shown that they can control the behavior of monkeys by using pulses of blue light to very specifically activate particular brain cells (abstract). The findings represent a key advance for optogenetics, a state-of-the-art method for making causal connections between brain activity and behavior. Based on the discovery, the researchers say that similar light-based mind control could likely also be made to work in humans for therapeutic ends."
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Controlling Monkey Brains and Behavior With Light

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  • by vistapwns (1103935) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @02:48PM (#40802959)
    Great, now I'll need to find some matching sun glasses to go with my tin foil hat..
    • This pair should do [laser2000.se]. you need something with decent protection from 480 nm.

      But realistically, as long as you don't have any exposed trepanations or evidence of brain surgery, you're probably okay.

    • by SpzToid (869795)

      You have heard to 'stay away from the light' haven't you?

      (And no I am not referring to a scene of some sort or other in every single Steven Spielberg movie. i.e. E.T., Poltergeist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind...)

    • Great, now I'll need to find some matching sun glasses to go with my tin foil hat.

      Only if you've had your brain injected with the artificial retroviral biotech material.

      This is just an application of an existing technology to primates. No big news.

      The technique involves injecting the brain in the desired region with an artificial retrovirus-like agent. This contains a gene for an artificial surface protein that triggers the nerve to fire when exposed to a particular color of light, along with a promoter t

      • Biggest issue with the technique right now is selective targeting. To do it you need to know the promoter sequence for a gene of interest, and it has to be small enough to be packaged into the viral vector along with the channelrhodopsin (to activate neurons) or halorhodopsin (to inactivate neurons, responds to yellow rather than blue wavelengths). For many genes the promoters are either not well characterized or too big, which is why so much of the current work in optogenetics is being done in mice - we ha

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @02:52PM (#40802997)
    With the proper feedback mechanism the primate can be compelled to perform a variety of directed tasks. One such method is the mod point.
  • ... the kewl blue LEDs on the front of everything.

    Note to self: Investigate modulating the LED intensity via a s/w trojan planted on laptops as a means of mind control and the first step to acheiving world domination.

    Bwaaaah haaaa haaaa!

    • by Agent0013 (828350)

      ... the kewl blue LEDs on the front of everything.

      Note to self: Investigate modulating the LED intensity via a s/w trojan planted on laptops as a means of mind control and the first step to acheiving world domination.

      Bwaaaah haaaa haaaa!

      Gee Brain, then what are we going to do tomorrow?

  • Prior art: (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @03:05PM (#40803079)

    Americans and TV

  • by mmmmbeer (107215)

    This gives a whole new meaning to the term "Mood Lighting."

  • by Brickwall (985910) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @03:38PM (#40803277)
    Controlling people's behaviour with light impulses was part of the plot line in last week's episode of "Continuum".
  • They call it television. It works very well by telling people what is cool and what isn't. Also in election years, the politicians tell the people what they want to hear by spending money, and naive voters pick their candidate on this. Big media does their part too by making the bought and paid for candidate sound smart and the opposition sound like a negative radical.
  • What a great idea . . . although, I guess Facebook already does that.

    They were very successful at convincing their users to buy their stock.

  • As another poster pointed out, we have known this for years concerning neurons.

    The deal here, is that we need to introduce a benign photopigment gene (like jellyfish fluorescent protein) into the target's neurons, then produce a contact-free BCI that uses small solid-state laser diodes as the signalling pin grid array, coupled with a sensitive CCD that records the flash patterns of the activating neurons underneath.

    Using different frequencies of light for signal and reception allows you to isolate signal da

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm always suspicious of stock wallpaper shipping with a distro or a beast like Microsoft Windows. Think of the millions of eyes which view these same images every day, for hours and hours on end.

    The same for popular music where millions are listening to the same single copy reproduced millions of times, possible subliminals backed by powerful companies with possible occult ties.

    Most media coming from powerful countries is controlled, shaped, and fashioned to provide a concentration camp effect for the mind

  • Good, TFA never mentions how this could be used for nefarious purposes. I mean, with algae-based gene therapy on brain cells and fiber optic cables crammed into your head, what could possibly go wrong?
    • Good, TFA never mentions how this could be used for nefarious purposes. I mean, with algae-based gene therapy on brain cells and fiber optic cables crammed into your head, what could possibly go wrong?

      If this technology were built up by the wrong people in the right way it could replace waterboarding.

  • what about Mozilla's Persona, could it be a real alternative?

    At least gives power to the users and not to the websites...

    https://login.persona.org/about [persona.org]
    http://identity.mozilla.com/ [mozilla.com]
    https://developer.mozilla.org/en/BrowserID [mozilla.org]

  • We all believe that, right?
    • Graet minds is what I'm going with...if it can be used for good it'll be adapted for evil. Althoughm fortunately, if A=B, B=A.
  • This is a very promising technology. Minimally, it is already proving invaluable for neuroscience research. What it means is that using genetic engineering (e.g. viral introduction of engineered genes into the brain) you can activate or inhibit a specific class of neurons (more precisely: neurons in which a specific genetic promoter is active) in a small brain region (using a surgically implanted optical fiber), and you can do so on the time scale of normal neuronal firing.

    This is a very powerful tool for m

  • A small step for mankind, a giant leap for monkeys writing the complete works of William Shakespeare.

  • Here is a nice video for a more striking visual example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88TVQZUfYGw [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Loads of stupid, moronic posts about this, as if it's all a 'bit of a laugh', right?

    Do you know what the word 'pain' means? Have you ever experienced it?

    Couldn't your sociopathic minds even begin to wonder what those monkeys went through? Why no video footage of this pointless 'research'? Wouldn't that be hugely beneficial for other scientists? Oh wait - we can't have the public seeing what these nutcases do to animals, can we.

    God help your children (if any of you wankers manage to ever have any) - imagine

    • This is the only comment in the whole discussion that is worth crap.

    • by Erpo (237853)
      You bring up a very interesting point here--one that was conspicuously absent from the article and other comments.

      Could the reason for this perspective be that articles about animal experimentation are written by and for people who have already largely decided that the benefits of animal experimentation outweigh the drawbacks? Is applying labels to your audience such as "stupid", "moronic", "sociopathic" and "nutcases" the most effective way to engage them in a constructive debate that will eventually res
  • Wasn't this last week's episode of Continuum verbatim?

  • Wait, is the light shown to the monkeys or is it injected inside their brains?

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