From Professor X to Bio X, a team at Stanford University has demonstrated a form of mind control over mice using the same technology found in wireless chargers.
Samsung’s newly launched Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ both boast fast wireless charging, but the Korean tech giant made no mention of whether the company’s new charging plates would also be able to control the minds of small rodents. For some reason they left that part out of their presentation.
Thankfully, the Bio X team, based out of Stanford University in California have developed a system that employs optogenetics (the ability to control brain activity using light) and an implant the size of a peppercorn to demonstrate such a feature instead.
Whilst the use of optogenetics on mice isn’t new, the nature of the technology has previously required a physical tether to the mouse’s head carrying a fibre optic cable. With this new endeavour, the Bio X team have developed a number of implants that can be attached to a subject’s brain, spinal column or limbs featuring a circuit, LED and wireless receiving coil all weighing between just 20 and 50 milligrams.
When placed in an electromagnetic chamber bearing similarities to the internals of a more conventional wireless charger, the implants pick up waves at a specific frequency tuned to the mouse, in turn lighting the LED which then alters the signals within a targeted part of the mouse’s brain.
In the video you’ll see that the introduction of a signal from the emitter causes the mouse to walk in an anti-clockwise direction, while a lack of signal results in behaviour that falls in line with your average mouse.
As is often the case with certain avenues of scientific research you may be asking yourself, ‘”So, how exactly is this useful?” Despite initial visions of becoming a real-world pied piper; commanding armies of mice to do your bidding, the Bio X team actually thinks that mapping brain activity and ways in which we can affect certain patterns or behaviour could be used to help engineer cures or treatments for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease and strokes.
The darker way to look at this is that in certain circumstances, military contractors could potentially buy and develop the technology for use on humans in combat situations or more likely interrogations, although that level of control would require far more extensive research at this early stage. Right now they could force you to walk around in circles though, so there’s that.