As of recent times, rats have communicated through wireless brain implants, from across the globe. Also, recent fMRI technologies have allowed prediction of movements (or intention), and the visualization of brain waves (or 'seeing' your thoughts, images, etc.)

Rats have been used for testing, and some advances allowed scientists to predict intention, induce and/or subdue emotions and thoughts.

Reading or controlling the mind requires modifying/reading neural oscillations on neurons, and doing so on certain parts of the brain. Since the neural oscillations are the base of thought and cognition itself, how can we fight our own oscillations? This question stems from the possibility of mind control/reading in humans.

If the technology directly modifies our thoughts.. how can we fight that very structure? In science fiction, people "fight" against implants and control, but in reality, is that even possible? Can we fight our own oscillations?

For example, your mind is being read for a thought that you consciously know, like a password, and can you fight this attack? Another example, your mind is being controlled, you are being coerced, and since neural oscillations are thought itself, you can't have objections.

Can we have objections?
Can we fight our neural oscillations if they are hijacked?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It depends. If a "lower" function is hijacked, it may be able to be overridden by regions that retain control "upstream" in the control flow. If the "higher level" functions are actually being hijacked, I don't see how there's much you could do. Of course, this is speculation, but I think that due to the numerous ways ways in which individual brains can retain information, a certain amount of training would be required to get the machine and the brain to interface (whether brain->machine or machine->brain). Thus, it would require some obvious intrusions on privacy. $\endgroup$ Jun 28 '13 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, it'll be bad if we can't fight it. $\endgroup$
    – CoonKitteh
    Jun 28 '13 at 17:23

For the question of whether humans could fight neuro"mind-reading", I can only say that there is very little evidence that information we know but are not thinking about could be extracted using current methods. This means that the old scifi mind-reading-fighting standby of thinking of something else might work--although then we have the "don't think of a pink elephant" problem of ironic processing.

For the question of whether we could fight externally induced neural activity, I'm going to assume that it would be similar to fighting intrusive thoughts in obsessive compulsive disorder. Currently, our best bets there are exposure, cognitive behavioral therapy, and drugs. Since exposure is primarily involved with reducing the strength of the association between the anxiety-creating obsession and the comforting compulsion, I'm not sure it applies here. Similarly, since the drugs used for OCD are generally anxiolytic or antidepressant, I'm not sure they would help in this case. It might be possible to create a variant of cognitive behavioral therapy that treats the imposed neural activity as a compulsion. . . but since the technology to impose neural activity on humans (or animals who are good analogs of human compulsion) doesn't exist, all this is speculative!


I would say that not all "mind control" is necessarily a bad thing. For example, using decoded neurofeedback, it may be possible to implant knowledge into a person's brain without that person being aware of it. This would be especially useful for certain motor skills that are required for sports.

This would be similar to the scene in The Matrix where Neo learns Kung Fu. I would think that with this technology there would be certain security requirements that would have to be met.


[A new neuroscientific approach using decoded neurofeedback (DecNef)]. [Article in Japanese] Shibata K.


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