A vast array of direct mind control techniques are being announced in the wake of investment from government via the U.S. BRAIN project and Europe’s counterpart the Human Brain Project – all told, billions of dollars are being spent to decode what makes us tick and how to change it.
We are being given gadgets that create a brain-computer interface, magnetic manipulation via “neural dust,” high-powered lasers, using light beamed from outside the skull, the implanting and erasure of memories, and even the direct uploading of the contents of our brain.
Despite all this, some have stressed that the brain is not consciousness; therefore, there is always a built-in protection that the aware mind can erect to thwart outside attacks. Neuroscientists, however, are now claiming for the first time to have found absolute proof that consciousness is completely dependent on brain structure. In fact, it can be identified as a literal on/off switch that can be physically tripped by electrical stimulation, thus closing down all awareness in an instant.
Here are some key passages from their findings:
In a study published last week, Mohamad Koubeissi at the George Washington University in Washington DC and his colleagues describe how they managed to switch a woman’s consciousness off and on by stimulating her claustrum. The woman has epilepsy so the team were using deep brain electrodes to record signals from different brain regions to work out where her seizures originate. One electrode was positioned next to the claustrum, an area that had never been stimulated before.
When the team zapped the area with high frequency electrical impulses, the woman lost consciousness. She stopped reading and stared blankly into space, she didn’t respond to auditory or visual commands and her breathing slowed. As soon as the stimulation stopped, she immediately regained consciousness with no memory of the event. The same thing happened every time the area was stimulated during two days of experiments (Epilepsy and Behavior, doi.org/tgn).
To confirm that they were affecting the woman’s consciousness rather than just her ability to speak or move, the team asked her to repeat the word “house” or snap her fingers before the stimulation began. If the stimulation was disrupting a brain region responsible for movement or language she would have stopped moving or talking almost immediately. Instead, she gradually spoke more quietly or moved less and less until she drifted into unconsciousness. Since there was no sign of epileptic brain activity during or after the stimulation, the team is sure that it wasn’t a side effect of a seizure.
Koubeissi thinks that the results do indeed suggest that the claustrum plays a vital role in triggering conscious experience. “I would liken it to a car,” he says. “A car on the road has many parts that facilitate its movement – the gas, the transmission, the engine – but there’s only one spot where you turn the key and it all switches on and works together. So while consciousness is a complicated process created via many structures and networks – we may have found the key.”
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