At 03:24 PM 10/18/98 -0700, you wrote:
>> Very interesting indeed! But...is this for real? One would think that if
>> amazing feats were already possible more than 30 years ago, "wired" people
>> (criminals for example) and animals would be a common sight by now...What
>> current status of this kind of research anyway?
>The same thing HAS been done with people... and I believe it was done before
>it was done with animals. I remember reading about some guy in Louisiana or
>something in the 50s who was a schizophrenic and homosexual, and they put a
>wire into his pleasure center, and the hospital staff gave him control of
>the button while he was watching a heterosexual porno, then got a prostitute
>for him (really!). I don't have the source with me so I don't remember the
>exact details, but it was from a book called "The Three Pound Universe".
>They also use it to control pain in terminally ill people.. I think the
>basal ganglia is the area that is stimulated. Someone who took a
>biopsychology class told me that one day the professor brought in a rat who
>had a wire directly into his basal ganglia, and could stimulate it with a
>lever, and the rat had been pressing the lever for three days straight, and
>while the professor is going over this to the class, the rat dropped dead
>from exaustion.. some girl in the class started complaining that it was
>cruelty to animals and he said "honey, this rat died happier then you'll
>ever be in your whole life". Apparently the procedure is not nearly as
>addictive with humans, and they can control it pretty well when they get one
>put in. I also seem to remember being told in a class that they have placed
>electrodes into people amygdala's to control anger.
All elementary psychology clases cover these experiments quite thoroughly. They are very famous and are the basis for many sub-fields of neuroscience. The original rat experiment was done by B.F. Skinner in the 50s and was called "the skinner box." The implant was an electrode which was put into the rat's hypothalamus (pleasure center of the brain which controls sensations from eating, sleeping, sex). When an electrical stimulus was provided by the subject, (in this case a lever the rat presses) the interesting thing they noted was that the animal couldnt get enough pleasure -- in other words they couldnt be satiated by the amount of pleasure. This was also done later in human subjects, and there was no higher control found. Humans would press the button endlessly when it was in their hands. There is a lot of old video footage of the experiments where a girl is holding this box and hitting a button over and over and the doctor asks her, "Why are you pressing that button?" (There were 3 buttons, but only one stimulated the hypothalamus) and she replied by saying "it feels good. Its like a sexy button" and the doctor asked "what exactly do you mean by sexy?" and she replied "it feels like this button goes all the way down." We had a good laugh about it in my psychoogy class.
About the bull experiment, that was similar technology but the electrode was placed to deliver electric current to the amygdala, which is the brain's center for both fear and anger (depending on the area of stimulation). Anyways, the Doctor in the story activated the electrode and the bull suddenly felt extremely scared of the matador and stopped dead in his tracks. This has also been done to human subjects, and when the fear part of the amygdala was stimulated, the subjects would go into giant panic attacks and have intense feelings of death. When the anger part was stimulated, they would go into bouts of rage. One patient described it like this: "I just felt like I wanted to strangle the man interviewing me for the experiment, and I had no idea why"
This is very interesting research and has been done with most areas of the brain, and the results are profound, and have probably taught us more about why humans behave in the way they do than any other psychological experiments. These experiments are still going on today, but are now focused more on (big surprise) cognition and memory enhancement.
Also, I have read "The Three Pound Universe" and it is a great book if you are interested in a more biological and "hard science" view of the brain and human behavior.
Diego A. Mayer-Cantu
PGP Key available upon request