The stimoceiver is one of the most controversial neuroscientific experiments in history, but also one of the most fascinating. It involves implanting a device in the brain to control behavior. It was invented by the Spanish scientist José Manuel Rodríquez Delgado.
This device would allow to direct the conduct of biological organisms at a distance. A sort of remote control that, once activated, would generate electrical stimuli in specific areas of the brain and would be able to make an animal or a human act in a certain way.
The creator of the Stimoceiver, José Manuel Rodríguez Delgado, was severely attacked for this. Although his goal was to deepen knowledge of the brain and open a path towards rehabilitation of certain brain functions, it was speculated that in reality his intent was to create a tool to manipulate the mind and direct or condition behavior through this path.
The famous experiment with the stimoceiver
After inventing the stimoceiver, Dr. Rodríguez Delgado performed a world-famous experiment. The latter took place in 1965, in Cordoba (Spain). Rodríguez chose a very peculiar setting to test his device: a bullfighting arena.
It was a small arena and only a dozen witnesses were present. A bull named Lucero was chosen for the experiment with the stimoceiver. It is said that several expert toreros began to confront the animal, while the scientist waited behind a fence for shelter.
At a precise moment, the doctor came out well dressed, with a shirt and tie. In his hand he held only the remote control. Step by step he approached Lucero, who, as soon as he saw him, took a furious run-up.
When he was close enough, the scientist activated his remote control. Then an electric discharge was produced in the brain of Lucero who gave up the attack. On May 23, the cover of the New York Times was dedicated to Dr. José Manuel Rodríguez Delgado and the whole world knew that a way had been found to control the brain.
The creator of the stimoceiver
Dr. José Manuel Rodríguez was a fellow at Yale University as early as 1946. In 1950 he joined the University’s physiology department at the invitation of the famous scientist John Fulton. Barely a decade later, he was already testing his stimoceiver.
The first experiments were performed on cats and, later, on monkeys. Rodríguez is said to have made it into a kind of toy that acted according to his wishes. Subsequently, it was time to do the great public rehearsal in the Córdoba arena. Thanks to it, the whole world witnessed the incredible progress.
Delgado stated that it was possible to produce controlled radiostimulation inside the brain, and in particular in the amygdala and hippocampus area. To do this, a small radio transmitter was implanted in the brain, which would then be activated by a remote control. As simple as it is complex.
Experiments on animals and humans
The first time that Dr. Rodríguez Delgado spoke of the possibility of remote control of behavior was in the late 1940s. Later, he had the opportunity to carry out his experiments in Bermuda, more precisely in a place called Hall Island.
There he managed to implant small stimoreceptors, or stimoceivers, into the brains of a whole group of gibbons. A short time later he was able to control the behavior of these animals, to the point that many of them rebelled against alpha males, something unthinkable in nature.
Beginning in 1952 he began to perform his experiments on humans. His “guinea pigs” were mainly patients with mental disorders, from the hospital in Rhode Island, Massachusetts. According to what he claimed, he only used patients for whom science could do nothing.
The controversial experiment
Most of the results of the experiments conducted with the stimoceiver were recorded in the book Physical Control of the Mind, published by Rodríguez Delgado in 1969. It reports 25 implants performed on humans, most of which on people with schizophrenia or epilepsy.
The doctor stated that radio transmitters could remain in the brain for life, in addition to being able to generate multiple moods and emotions, such as cheerfulness, deep concentration or extreme relaxation.
He was accused of being part of a CIA program to control the human mind. It was never entirely clear whether this was the case or not. What is certain is that the stimoceiver served as a precursor to other devices that are currently being tested to improve diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).