Controlling someone else's arm with your brain? Whaaaat? You might say. Witchcraft! Trickery! But no, it's just neuroscience and scientist Greg Gage demonstrates how to do it with a simple DIY toolkit in this TED Talk he gave in Vancouver.
Inviting two volunteers up on the stage, Gage blows their minds by giving them the superhero-like power to move the other's arm using just their mind. Gage achieves this using some electrodes and a computer system which picks up the electrical and chemical signals that impact voluntary movement.
By plugging them both into the toolkit Gage creates a human-to-human interface, so when one person squeezes their hand it causes the other person to move theirs. Pretty insane, right? As well as being a great party trick, this sort of demonstration is what Gage uses to engage the kids and teach them about the wonders of neuroscience.
Gage runs Backyard Brains an organization that creates affordable DIY kits for high schools and elementary schools so they can learn about neuroscience, a subject that is woefully underrepresented at this level of education.
"The brain is an amazing and complex organ," notes Gage. "And while many people are fascinated by the brain, they can't really tell you that much about the properties about how the brain works because we don't teach neurosciences in schools. It seems that what we should be doing is reaching back earlier in the education process and sort of teaching students about neuroscience, so that in the future they may be thinking about possibly becoming a brain scientist."