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Science: Five Incredible—and Real—Mind-Control Applications

A magnetic resonance image (MRI) of the human brain and spine.
PUBLISHED AUGUST 29, 2013
Scientists achieved the first remote human-to- human brain interface this week, when Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal over the Internet that moved the hand of colleague Andrea Stocco—even though Stocco was sitting all the way across the University of Washington's campus. Using one human brain to direct another person's body via the Internet was an amazing breakthrough. But other feats of mind control are already realities, particularly in the realm of human machine interfaces (HMIs). Here are some amazing examples of what our brains can already do.
Compose and Play Music
Yes, music composition always took place in the brain. But now musicians might be able to eliminate the need for tools and interfaces like sheet music—or even playing an instrument—by simply creating music directly with their thoughts. Electroencephalography (EEG) headwear devices record the electric signals that are produced when the brain is at work and can connect them wirelessly to a computer. Their wearers can also train their minds to associate a set of EEG brain signals with a specific task. For example, thinking about pushing a button on the computer screen produces a brainwave pattern that computer software can then recognize and associate with that task. To make music, such thoughts are associated with notes or sounds to create a language of musical thought that's produced directly from the brain. With this established, users can simply think musical scores to life and play them via the computer. For an example of the way the mind can create music and other forms of art, check out the MiND ensemble (Music in Neural Dimensions) from the University of Michigan.
Screen Mobile Phone Calls
Like a tough personal secretary, Ruggero Scorcioni's Good Times app filters the incoming calls of busy mobile phone users by simply monitoring the state of the user's brain. Earlier this year, Scorcioni won an AT&T Mobile App Hackathon with the iOS app, which uses the cuddly 'Necomimi Cat Ears' brainwave-reading headset to monitor brain activity and reroute calls to voicemail when it perceives that the user's brain is busy with other tasks. If the user's brain is in a receptive state, it lets the call through. With USD30,000 in Hackathon prize money in hand, Scorcioni is fine-tuning his prototype, which he views as a first step in the way our brain states might directly control mobile devices and our individual environments. Someday it might enable more brain- driven mobile device features that require no user input, like his Good Tunes concept, which would read brainwaves and then play music best matching the wearer's personal preferences for their current brain state...more
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