Our ecosystem is a dynamic and complex place filled with millions of intelligent species of plants and animals. We have always wondered about what goes on in the minds of our fellow beings and about the extent of the consciousness they experience. Researchers made one giant leap this past week towards getting closer to the animals in our world, and this includes taking control over their actions with our own brains.

The evolution of Brain-Computer Interface

The growth of revolutionary technologies like Electroencephalography (EEG) and Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) has allowed us to accomplish unimaginable feats over the last few years.

We have been able to successfully transmit a thought from one person's brain to another, control prosthetic limbs using brain waves, and even control robots using our minds.

Researchers are now examining the various ways we can control animals using these technologies. So far, attempts to control insects have required invasive procedures, but the latest attempt to control a turtle have been quite ingenious.

Directing movements

The reason researchers chose a turtle for this experiment is because of their remarkable cognitive abilities. Turtles are also able to detect white light extremely well and use this input to direct themselves to safety. In order to control the Turtle without an invasive procedure, researchers created an ingenious method that relies on indirectly controlling movement using white light to issue commands.

A special system was created specifically for this experiment and it involves a swivelling half cylinder that shines white light through a small window. The cylinder was able to rotate only 36 degrees in either direction and its movement was being controlled by a human subject equipped with EEG and BMI technology. A camera was mounted on to the Turtles’ shell in order to allow the human participant to view the course designed for this experiment.

Researchers noted that the Turtle successfully navigated through various terrains using the help of the white light being provided by the human participant. In a sense, the participant was technically steering the Turtle to safety.

Applications of technology

The method designed to conduct this experiment involves a keen understanding of available technology, along with understanding the cognitive and psychological make-up of the animal subject.

The versatility of this technology will allow us to interact with animals in such unique ways in the near future.

Thousands of new-born Turtles are being driven away from the water and into cities due to our bright lights. This technology will allow us to solve such heart-breaking problems and hopefully help our animal brethren thrive in their ecological conditions again despite all the obstacles we have been throwing their way over the past few decades.