Mind over Matter

Brylen James

Genetic in The News Fall Semester 2014


Everyone at some point has experienced some form of pain (physical or mental), and there was nothing anyone could do to help you, so you were told mind over matter. Mind over matter is a phrase used to describe a situation where all you can do is power through with certain specific thoughts until the situation resolves. Well, science has found some truth to that statement. Recent studies with mice have shown that certain thoughts by humans can control the amount of a protein, secreted embryonic alkaline phosphatase (SEAP), in the mouse and therefore the gene expression of that protein.

So how in the world does this work you ask?

Well, professor Martin Fussenegger of ETH Zurich, a bioengineer, ultimately developed a mind-control device. However, instead of the scary mind control you see in the movies, which allows minds to control other minds, this device currently can control (only) the genes of a mouse.

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The device is controlled by an EEG headset that monitors brainwaves or your thoughts. These thoughts are then transferred (via Bluetooth) to a microcontroller. The microcontroller analyzes the EEG and turns on and off a field generator based on how it interprets the brainwaves. IF turned on, the field generator creates an electromagnetic field which gives the implant the induction current that powers the receiver coil on the implant (it turns the implant on). The coil turns on the LED lamp in the implant, which activates genetically modified cells. These cells are light sensitive and when illuminated by the LED light they begin to produce the necessary proteins. The proteins then diffuse to a culture chamber and then into the bloodstream.

What thoughts activate the Microcontroller?

The researchers broke the test subjects up into three groups (which represent the states of mind one would think in); bio-feedback, meditation, and concentration.

  1. The bio-feedback group would think certain thoughts that would turn on the LED light. The LED light would be observable through the mouse's skin for them to see. The group, therefore, could tell when they activated the protein giving them the power to fluctuate the amount of protein in the mouse's bloodstream.
  2. The meditation group would completely relax which would make the SEAP very high in the mouse's bloodstream.
  3. The concentrated group played a game, mine craft, on the computer (which made them concentrate) and made SEAP average levels in the mouse's bloodstream.

Future Use?

The knowledge from this research will allow scientist to produce proteins for those who have a disease alliterating the amount or the effect of the protein's their body normally produces. This device will override the bodies gene expression of that protein, which the implant will then control.

The basic principles of this research, controlling gene expression, can be applied to more than just mind-control. For example, in the future we may be able to cut out the middle man (the patient) in the process of determining protein levels. Instead of thoughts to activate the device, we could have blood levels of the protein continuously monitored by another device and a predetermined range of the levels will control the release of the protein.

Right now, researcher are looking at this device to treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy and chronic pain (headaches, joint, etc.). Rather than a disorder that can be controlled with medications such as diabetes and acid reflux. However, that does not mean they are ruling it out for the future. For all we know, in 100 years everyone with a protein-related disease will have a device specific to their needs being monitored by the levels in their bloodstream. So no one will need to worry about monitoring their illness and everyone with the protein-related disease can live a normal life.

It's going to be a long time before this device becomes available to the public. We need more reliable information on how to read brainwaves. Where would you implant the device and all its parts? In different locations for different disease or always in the brain; also where would you put the micro controller and field generator, a phone perhaps? There is also the potential that scar tissue would render the implant ineffective and would the implant need to be replaced every so often? And these questions are the easy part. This process gets even more complicated because each specific protein and gene need to be modified to work with the device and even in todays world we don't know the genes for all the proteins.

The thought is very exciting and futuristic. The future of a nurse for these types of patients may be just to monitor their blood results every so often and make sure their device is still functioning. This device will give these patients a whole new sense of living, and hopefully keep them away from frequent healthcare visits.


Overall, this device is revolutionary. It gives a new sense to mind over matter. Our mind can release the matter and controlling the molecules in our body that will fix so many diseases and problems. This device is the first step to something very big. It can be applied in so many different ways and will give a range of individuals more freedom to live their lives.

The research I acquired gave me the knowledge about how genetics isn't always how to fix and whats wrong with DNA; this device makes proteins and allows an individual to bypass their faulty DNA.We are doing the job of DNA. There is still a long to go; there will be multiple bumps in the road, and we may end up with something completely different than we thought we were. But it is a start to something amazing.

Fun Facts

  • Martin Fussenegger was inspired by the game mindflex for his research.
  • The researchers choose a mind control device over per say a button for those patients who are incapable of communicating with the outside world but still can produce thoughts.
  • The protein used on the mouse was from a human gene and did NOTHING to the mouse but allowed scientist to monitor the protein in it's bloodstream.

What is Gene Expression in a NORMAL body?

For those of you who don't know what is wrong with the individuals who need this device.
Gene Expression


Use the force: genes controlled by the power of huma...

Ellis, M. (2014, November 12). "Use the force: genes controlled by the power of human thought." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285320.php.

Controlling genes with your thoughts

ETH Zurich. (2014, November 11). "Controlling genes with your thoughts". ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141111111317.htm

***Martin Fussenegger's Research Paper***

Folcher, M. et al. Mind-controlled transgene expression by a wireless-powered optogenetic designer cell implant. Nat. Commun. 5:5392 doi: 10.1038/ncomms6392 (2014).

Mind-Controlled Gene Expression

Madhusoodanan, Jyoti. "Mind-Controlled Gene Expression." <i>The Scientist Magazine</i>. 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. &lt;http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/41416/title/Mind-Controlled-Gene-Expression/&gt;.

Scientists develop method to manipulate genes using...

Sample, I. (2014, November 11). "Scientists develop method to manipulate genes using mind-control." Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/nov/11/mind-control-device-alter-genes-mice

Scientists develop method to manipulate genes using...

Vincent, J. (2014, November 12). Scientists develop method to manipulate genes using mind-control. Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-develop-method-to-control-genes-using-mindcontrol-9855890.html