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Scientists from the Harvard Medical School of Boston have been working on a system that combines a brain-computer interface with a neurostimulation device to create an effect that some would call ‘mind control’.

In their experiments, volunteers used their thoughts to trigger movement in an anesthetized rat.

Seung-Schik Yoo, one of the researchers who worked on the system, says that he envisions something like it (but between two human nervous systems) could be clinically viable soon. He envisions applications such as physical therapy, where the therapist could guide the movements of someone receiving treatment to speed up recovery time.

The technology behind this experiment is not in and of itself new; both BCI’s and techniques for neurostimulation (particularly in rats) are well known in neuroscience.

Some scientists have voiced concern that while this combination of technologies is novel, it does not meaningfully further our understanding of the nervous system. This notwithstanding, the experiment may be meaningful for neurotechnology in a wider sense. If nothing else, it demonstrates the incredible potential power of technologies that are thus far only used for scientific research.

New Scientist