How To Control Someone Else’s Arm With Your Brain

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Greg Gage is on a mission to make brain science accessible to all. In this fun, kind of creepy demo, the neuroscientist and TED Senior Fellow uses a simple, inexpensive DIY kit to take away the free will of an audience member. It’s not a parlor trick; it actually works. You have to see it to believe it.

image/text credit: TED

The science behind this is pretty cool, and if you watched the video you can see that simply moving someone’s arm is not enough to control someone else’s. The female volunteer needed to use her brain to activate the nerves in her arms to control the other’s arm.

To get started, Gage ‘reads’ the electrical signals that volunteer Sam’s brain puts out when she moves her hand.He then straps some electrodes onto the arm of a second volunteer, Miguel, and, after a little tuning, all Sam has to do is think about moving her hand, and Miguel’s arm starts to jump and twitch like some kind of possessed zombie limb.

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Fun fact here: the nerve that controls your hand movements is close enough to the skin that it can be stimulated non-invasively. It’s eerie and fascinating all at the same time.

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