Science TED Conferences

7 talks on monkeys, and 7 talks on mind control

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

monkey-brainMiguel Nicolelis begins today’s talk by showing you what a brainstorm looks and sounds like.

Miguel Nicolelis: A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts. No, really.Miguel Nicolelis: A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts. No, really.

“This is 100 brain cells firing,” says Nicolelis. “Everything that defines what human nature is comes from these storms that roll over the hills and valleys of our brains and define our memories, our beliefs, our feelings, our plans for the future.”

In this talk, given at TEDMed, Nicolelis describes how his team created what they call a “brain machine interface” which uses censors to listen to brainstorms, extract their motor messages, translate them into digital commands and send them to artificial device to reproduce movement. What does this mean? A monkey, named Aurora, whose brainwaves controlled, first, a robotic arm that played video games for her and, next, a human-like avatar six times her size on the other side of the world.

To hear more about how this works, and the implications it could have for those who’ve lost motor function — as well as for us all — watch this mind-bending talk. Here, more talks on monkeys and brain control.

Talks on monkeys:

  1. Isabel Behncke: Evolution’s gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans
  2. Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours
  3. Lauren Brent: Watching monkeys make friends
  4. Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals
  5. Susan Savage-Rumbaugh: The gentle genius of bonobos
  6. Spencer Wells builds a family tree for humanity
  7. Jane Goodall helps humans and animals live together

Talks on mind control:

  1. Tan Le: A headset that reads your brain waves
  2. Ariel Garten: Know thyself, with a brain scanner
  3. José del R. Millán: Mind-controlled machines
  4. Daniel Wolpert: The real reason for brains
  5. Rebecca Saxe: How brains make moral judgments
  6. Kwabena Boahen on a computer that works like the brain
  7. Ed Boyden: A light switch for neurons