By Mary Myers | Published: September 22, 2015 | Last Updated: October 1, 2015 How Does Human Brain Can Be Reprogrammed ? Julian: If you want to change someone’s behavior, you can do two things. You can go four layers deep into their dreams, on a daring and deadly raid to plant an idea. Or you can just flip a switch I guess. Hi, independent thinkers, Julian here for D News. You are the master of your mind, right? You make your own decisions and nobody and nothing can make you do anything you don’t want to do. I have bad news for you. That might not be true in the future. Researchers in the University of Massachusetts Medical School have managed to alter the behavior of nematodes by directly reprogramming one neuron. The nematodes C. Elegans is a tiny round worm that lives in soil, it crawls about, moving its head from side to side to feel out its environment. It has a very clever enemy, a carnivorous fungus that forms small loops like, when the C. Elegans pokes its head through the, it tightens, breaking the cuticle of the worm and letting the fungus feast on the insides. C. Elegans’ developed a counter to this deadly newts, there’s a small delay before the newts tightens, and if they back away quickly while keeping their head straight, they can escape. For this reason, when a nematode is touched just behind the head, it will do exactly that. It won’t back up this way if you touch it anywhere else like on the tail or even the nose. With that in mind, Dr. Mark Alchemist set out to see if he could quite literally reprogram the worm’s behavior. C. Elegans is the only animal today that has had its entire brain mapped. It’s only got 302 neurons, making 7000 connections. It was the ideal candidate for the first connectome. A connectome is the name for what a fully mapped neural network is. Because everything is plotted out, the complete path of this defense against fungus is known from sensory neuron to inter neuron to motor neuron. Dr. decided to see if changing how one of those neurons fired changed behavior. His team swapped out neurons inhibitory channel with an one. Now, when the engineered C. Elegans felt something behind its head, it no longer backed up but pressed on while contracting its head. It would still fall victim to the newts though, rendering its survival mechanism moot. Changing how one little neuron worked, completely changed behavior. While still keeping the rest of the worm’s brain stable and functioning. This has implications far beyond keeping fungus fed. The idea of a connectome has long been the subject of debate. Detractors of it pointed to the nematode and said, “Well, yeah, that’s cool at all but can you actually do anything with it?” Because of that, mapping neurons of much larger brains like ours with our 86 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses seemed like a fools errand. It would be costly, time consuming and ultimately useless. Now, however, it’s been shown that knowing exactly how behavior flows through the brain, means we can direct that flow. If we have a complete map of a human brain, think of the implications. Maybe we can write out behavioral disorders like ADHD, or finally rewire that brain failure that makes people play their music out loud on public transit. What a wonderful world that would be. Until that days come, you’ll just have to change hearts and minds the old fashioned way. By getting your thoughts and story out there which you could do on your very own website. No domain extension will help you tell your story like a .com or .net domain name. Because you watch D News, you can get 15% off domain.com names and web hosting by using the code DNEWS when you check out. Another challenge to making connectomes is the brain’s neuroplasticity. The brain is a pretty amazing thing, and it adapts and rewires itself. Trace talks about how brains adapt in amazing ways here. Other Anchor: Brain plasticity is the ability of a human brain to compensate for changes in the environment or the human body. Like learning to walk again after a stroke. Or in this case learning to walk at all without the motor center. Julian: With connetomes of complex creatures like us would be tough to pull off. Do you think it would be worth it to engineer behavior? Is engineering behavior even ethical? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.