Imagine if you could control your genetic expression just by thinking certain thoughts. Many New Age belief systems preach that thoughts create your reality and that by changing your thinking, you can change your entire life. Although there is subtle evidence for those claims, the evidence isn’t fully supported by science. However, based on new research, scientists have managed to come up with an implant that allows for something similar. The new research involved devising an implant that influenced genetic expression with human thoughts. Although this “cybernetic technology” is only in early stages of development, it could one day help us maintain optimal genetic functioning.
Researchers Use Thoughts to Control Genetic Expression
Before getting into the details of the research, it should be mentioned that the study was inspired by a game called “Mindflex.” I’m not sure how popular the game is, but it is available in a variety of selling outlets including Amazon. Anyways, the game involves a player wearing a headset with a sensor site that specifically records brainwave activity.
Once the brainwave activity is recorded to an EEG (electroencephalogram), it is then transferred to the game sensor. For a person playing the game, the object is to navigate a ball through a series of obstacles – but this must be done with only brainwaves. In other words, the ball is controlled based on a person’s pattern of brainwaves. If the person elicits the correct brainwave patterns, a fan gets signaled, and guides the ball properly through the obstacles.
Essentially, this game is an entertaining form of the practice known as biofeedback. A person is able to adjust their brainwaves based on their thoughts. If they do not have the correct “thinking” the ball will not move in the correct direction. If a person maintains the brainwaves needed for navigation, the ball will eventually make it through the obstacle course.
Human Thoughts Control Genes with Cybernetic Implants (2014)
Taking inspiration from the game Mindflex, a professor named Martin Fussenegger came up with a new idea for a cybernetic implant. With this implant, the goal was to use a similar system to the one in the game Mindflex. But in the research, the system that Fussenegger came up with would allow people to control their genetic expression – primarily with thought-specific brainwaves. This involved a series of steps, some of which may sound confusing to those who don’t understand the technology or brain waves.
- Step 1: Tap into human brainwaves – This was done with an EEG headset. This allowed researchers to observe specific brainwaves elicited by the human participant.
- Step 2: Transfer them wirelessly to a controller/field generator – The brainwaves were then transferred wirelessly to a controlled field generator, which created an electromagnetic field.
- Step 3: Use an implant – An implant could then be placed within a mouse or cell culture chamber.
- Step 4: Brainwaves control the implant – The person’s brainwaves then control the activity of the implant. Specific brainwaves stimulate the field generator, which in turn gives the implant induction current.
- Step 5: LED creates near-infrared light – An LED light located within the implant then illuminates with near-infrared light based on the thought-specific brainwaves. When the light turns on, it stimulates the surrounding cells to produce a protein, thereby altering genetic expression.
Protein: SEAP (Secreted Alkaline Phosphatase)
The protein that researchers used in the study was called “SEAP.” The researchers used this particular protein because it is a human-model protein. When the light shined on the modified light-sensitive protein within genetically modified cells, it triggered an “artificial signal cascade.” It is this cascade that resulted in significant SEAP value increases. The entire system that the researchers developed was not only efficient, but was highly effective in both human-mouse and human-cell culture models.
Note: It should be mentioned that researchers chose this near-infrared light for the study because it isn’t harmful to cells and is able to infiltrate tissues, while simultaneously allowed the implant to be tracked.
Protein values were influenced by thoughts
To test the implant, it was first inserted in various cell cultures, and then mice. In all cases (both cell cultures and mice), it was controlled by the thought-specific brainwaves of the participants. To directly test how thoughts could influence gene expression, researchers tracked SEAP values. SEAP is regarded as a human model protein that travels from within the implant into the bloodstream of mice.
In attempt to determine how various brainwave states would influence the amount of “SEAP” (protein) that was released, they tracked participants based on 3 types of mental activity. They assigned 3 groups of participants to either partake in: concentration (via playing a game), meditation, or biofeedback. They then noted how each of these states influenced the SEAP values.
- Concentration: In the “concentration” group, participants were instructed to play Minecraft on a computer. This resulted in a significant increase of SEAP values within mice.
- Meditation: In the “meditation” group, participants became very relaxed. When the relaxation increased, the SEAP values became very high within the mice.
- Biofeedback: In the “biofeedback” group, the participants observed the LED light of the implant in the body of the mouse. They then saw whether it was “on” or “off” based on their state of mind. This resulted in SEAP values to increase within the mice.
Controlling genetic expression with our thoughts
As leader of the study, Martin Fussengegger was quoted as saying: “For the first time, we have been able to tap into human brainwaves, transfer them wirelessly to a gene network and regulate the expression of a gene depending on the type of thought. Being able to control gene expression via the power of thought is a dream that we’ve been chasing for over a decade.”
The study is regarded as significant because it is unique; it’s something that has never been done before. Lead researcher Fussenegger was quoted as saying, “Controlling genes in this way is completely new and is unique in its simplicity.” Researchers also noted: “By combining cybernetics with optogenetics, we now provide the missing link enabling mental states such as biofeedback, concentration and meditation to directly control the transgene expression in living cells and mammals.”
This findings from this particular study were presented in the Journal of Nature Communications.
Recap of tools used in the study: Cybernetic Implants
Below is a recap of the tools that were used for this study.
- EEG headset: This recorded the person’s brain waves that were recorded by the bluetooth.
- Bluetooth technology: This allowed for the brainwaves to be wirelessly signaled to the controller.
- Controller: The controller was responsible for creating and influencing an electromagnetic field.
- Field-Generator: This created the electromagnetic field that influenced the implant.
- Implant: Within the electromagnetic field was an implant that used an induction current to function.
- LED light: Also within the implant was an LED light that produced infrared stimulation to various cells. The infrared stimulation was based on thought-specific brainwaves elicited by a human.
- Gene network: The gene network was stimulated by the LED light based on the thought-specific brainwaves. The expression that occurred within the genetic network was controlled by the person’s thoughts.
Does this mean you can think specific thoughts like “I am healthy” and the cells adapt?
No. This is not at all like that particular example. It doesn’t mean that a person can think a certain thought and the cells respond to their exact thought demands. However, it does mean that a person can receive feedback as to how the genes are being expressed. They can then tweak their thinking or brainwaves (via biofeedback) to produce favorable outcomes of expression.
So essentially the genetic expression is thought-controlled and related to thought-specific brainwaves, but in this early stage, it’s a form of biofeedback. That doesn’t mean one day with the development of technology and brain implants that you will never be able to optimize your genetic expression with thoughts. Technology like the implant mechanism used in this study as well as that used for “Virtual Telepathy” is bridging the gap between fantasy and reality.
Do our thoughts already control our genes?
Many who subscribe to New Age belief systems believe that whatever we think becomes a reality. There are even scientists like Bruce Lipton that suggest our belief system changes our genetic functioning. If you are interested, you can read the book “Biology of Belief.” In many ways, it is obvious that our beliefs create our reality. Beliefs are thoughts that are firmly rooted in our reality. Although we may be able to control some of our thinking, we cannot always control our beliefs.
An example of someone who cannot control their genes by “thinking” a certain way would be a person with genetically-based social anxiety. If we have certain genetics such as those for social anxiety, we may develop the belief that we aren’t good at speaking in groups. This belief is established as a result of experience – the person tries to speak in groups, but their genetically-induced physiological reaction is uncontrollable. These beliefs are therefore regarded as nearly impossible to change because no matter how much effort we put forth to overcome the anxiety, it is like playing the wall in tennis – we can’t win against our own genetic limitations.
However, it should be noted that our thoughts still do have some natural influence over our genetic expression. In many ways, our thoughts will always influence our current genetics. For example, if you constantly think to yourself: “I am fat, there’s nothing I can do” and you believe it, you may not even make an attempt to work out, eat healthy, etc. Ultimately this thought may lead you to put forth no effort, live a certain way, and will probably lead to stimulation of genetic changes within your body.
On the other hand, someone who thinks “I am overweight, but I can get in shape” may take the initiative to eat extremely healthy, work out frequently, and that person may end up in really good shape. This individual may have had similar starting genetics to the person who gave up on themselves, but they changed their entire reality based on their thoughts. There end genetic expression will likely be different between the couch potato and the person who took initiative to get in shape.
When it comes to the belief that “thoughts” create your reality and influence your genetic expression, it’s only true to a certain extent. Everyone has genetic limitations – no matter how many times you think certain thoughts, reality doesn’t necessarily follow suit. This is where this technology may be helpful in the future – it could help us turn “on” or “off” certain maladaptive genetics.
How this technology may be useful in the future
Some speculate that these cybernetic implants may help those suffering neurological disorders like migraine headaches, epilepsy, etc. It may even be beneficial to help those suffering from various mental illnesses – assuming we can identify the genetic footprints or expressions responsible for them. Once these footprints can be identified, an implant that stimulated expression of certain genes or turned off others could help us combat symptoms and may even provide a functional cure. This sounds completely distinct, albeit less complex than the current “bionic brain implants” being developed for mental illness.
- Genetic regulation: Once scientists are able to distinguish healthy genetic expression from unhealthy expression on an individualized basis, we could use this implant to regulate certain genes.
- Maximizing/optimizing genetic potential: The technology won’t give us a new genetic code, but it could allow us to produce favorable genetic outcomes based on scientific templates or recommendations.
- Mental illness: Those with various types of mental illnesses may be able to use an implant to prevent certain diseases from developing and/or switch on specific genetic networks that may combat certain symptoms.
- Medical conditions: People with debilitating medical conditions may be able to pinpoint genetic modifications that contributed to the disease and alter them with the implant.
- Neurological disorders: An implant may help those with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s or dementia. By discovering how certain protein alterations may help, this technology could be used to help regulate the condition.
Expanding upon this study: Optimizing genetics with Implants
Although I have a feeling researchers are going to improve this technology and conduct follow-up studies. I’m wondering why they instead don’t focus more on using the implant to optimize genetic potential. Meaning, find a gene network that is regarded as causing or contributing to a certain illness or disease, and then use the implant to correct it.
The implant wouldn’t need to be necessarily controlled by “thoughts” or “brainwaves.” Instead it could be linked to an automated computer interface that knows the precise stimulation necessary to correct the maladaptive expression. This computer interface could be something as simple as an app on a smartphone that is linked via 4G, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth to the implant.
Additionally with small enough technology, a closed-system could be proposed. Meaning based on the specific problem a person is dealing with, an implant could be used that is coded to correct it. I guess these ideas are a far advancement from what occurred in the study, and slightly off-topic, but a major component of this research is that of altering genetics with (bionic) implant technology.
Future Predictions: Will we be able to control our own genes with our thoughts?
As science continues to make strides in bionic technology, it can be suspected that we will be able to control our own genes with our thoughts. However, I suspect that at some point in the future, our thoughts won’t really need to be in the equation. Eventually it could be hypothesized that an automated system will be able to detect maladaptive genetic expression, and automatically provide the correct stimulation to an implant that corrects or “optimizes it.”
This will allow humans to optimize their genetic potential. Follow-up research to this study first needs to be conducted to further verify results. At this time, researchers are most excited because this is something new and unexpected. What do you think about this study? Is it exciting or is the hype a little too much to stomach?
- Source: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141111/ncomms6392/full/ncomms6392.html
- Source: https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2014/11/controlling-genes-with-thoughts.html