Following my story about the helicopter controlled by thought, there’s new research about what happens in the brain when subjects learn to use these ‘mind machines.’ Scientists have found that the brain activity recorded when they do this is similar to that which takes place when subjects learn new motor skills. The processing resembles that which happens when people learn to play the piano or to ride a bicycle. The difference is that there is no direct feedback into the brain as there is when tasks like these are attempted. In its place there is feedback from observing what happens to the object the mind is attempting to control.
The experimental thought-controlled helicopter is the latest in a long line of devices, some of which are designed to assist people with disabilities. Some venture into more exotic areas, however. Samsung, for example, is reported to be working on a ‘mind control’ tablet device. And I can imagine applications to new types of computer game in which players control their real-world avatars with their minds. That sounds as though it might be a lot of fun. I rather think that this technology is going places. As we reach the stage of being able to control our computers with voice commands in place of keyboard, mouse and touch-screen, the obvious next step will be to have devices we can instruct just by thinking what we want them to do.
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