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See Inside March / April 2011

Being John Malkovich: Personal Control of Individual Brain Cells

An advanced brain-machine interface enables patients to control individual nerve cells deep inside their own brains

All the weirdness of the mind-body nexus is apparent here. The patient doesn’t feel an itch every time the Monroe neuron fires; she doesn’t think, “Inhibition, inhibition, inhibition,” to banish Brolin from the screen. She has absolutely no idea whatsoever what goes on inside her head. Yet the thought of Monroe translates into a particular pattern of neuronal activity. Events in her phenomenal mind find their parallel in her material brain. A mind-quake occurs simultaneously with a brain-quake.

This article was originally published with the title "Consciousness Redux: Being John Malkovich."

(Further Reading)

  • Invariant Visual Representation by Single Neurons in the Human Brain. R. Quian Quiroga, L. Reddy, G. Kreiman, C. Koch and I. Fried in Nature, Vol. 435, pages 1102–1107; June 23, 2005.
  • On-line, Voluntary Control of Human Temporal Lobe Neurons. M. Cerf et al. in Nature, Vol. 467, pages 1104–1108; October 28, 2010.
  • Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist. Christof Koch. Roberts Publishers, 2011.
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