so the new Ratbot things got me thinking: do humans have a defined pleasure center? if it were directly stimulated, what would that feel like and if say it were stimulated along with spatial sensing set of neurons, woudl we feel compelled to travel in that direction? rats obviously have more simplistic guidance systems- i wonder what it would take to get a relatively weak-willed human under remote control…

Rats are relatively dim animals. Clever enough but not truly bright. That they have an in-built response to sensory inputs is unsurprising. Human infants have a similar automatic response to touch on the face (although they turn towards the touch since it often means a breast is in their face and there’s food there).

If scientists did the same thing to you that they did to the rats you’d feel a touch on the side of your face but you’d be no more compelled to move in a given driection than if I came over their and touched your face in person (although you might wonder what the hell I was up to).

If scientists could directly stimulte the pleasure center of your brain you’d probably never want to get off the lab table for the rest of your life.

yeah, but from what i understood from the article, they were somehow coordinating the stimulation of the pleasure center with sensory input from the whiskers. i mean, rats don’t receive pleasure(as far as i know) from their whiskers, but learned to associate the two inputs and that’s why the pleasure seems to have directionality. my question is more: what would it take to get a human to respond the same way? if a human pelasure center existed and was as strong as you claim in your post, i would think not too much coaxing would be required to get people running in circles for their next pleasure fix.


Humans have considerably more free will than a rat. Touch the side of a rat’s face (or make it think it has been touched) and there is no thought that goes into whether it wants to move in the opposite direction…it just does (unless there is another compelling reason not to go a certain way such as falling off a ledge).

You may get a human to do what you want by stimulating the pleasure center of the brain but only because the human has decided that they want their next fix…you essentially setup an addiction in the human and hope they cooperate. Nevertheless a human could still decide to be recalcitrant and not do what you want if they decide they are willing to forgo their next jolt of pleasure. If you really wanted you could stick your hand in a fire and leave it there even though your mind would be screaming to get it out. Same principle here. Even if the compulsion for your next zap is huge you can still decide not to do a thing.

To my mind directly stimulating the pleasure center of a human brain could easily amount to a perverse sort of torture. To really get a humanbot like a ratbot you’d likely have to break the person’s will in which case you’d quickly end up with a jibebring idiot whose only goal in life is to get more of the good stuff.

hmm i wonder if you could set up the reverse situation in a ratbot:
give PAIN stimulation at various points in the brain corresponding to parts of the body. if you want the rat to run forward, stimulate the pain sensor in its rear. hehe this could be Ratbot’s excape mode (probably runs faster from pain than towards pleasure).

now suppose you tapped the pain reflex system in a human: say you abducted someone in their sleep and implanted the pain electrode unit. i imagine you could at least get the person to make flailing movements and various other jerky reflexes. if the person only knew that when they moved away from where the pain was “located” and it would then cease i think that they could be conditioned to move around. of course, if they ever recognized that they were the victim of an experiment, the free will you referred to would kick in and then they might start fighting it, forcing the experimenters to abandon the project (or up the voltage).

sure you could hold your hand in a fire if you knew that there would be no damage done and had some sort of reason for doing that. the vast majority of people would move away from the source of discomfort. the situation i am trying to set up can be likened to someone waking up one day and being conditioned gradually without their knowledge of the conditioning(kind of like what a rat would be able to comprehend in this type of situation). all they know is that it feels better or less bad to go in a certain direction or move a certain way and then gradually, from an outside perspective, they become insane.

yes, work is slow today

FWIW, Michael Crichton wrote a book about this. It’s fiction, but plenty of real info in there in true Crichton style.

hey i think i may have read that book a while back. maybe that’s where these ideas are coming from.

Under most circumstances most people would certainly get away from a source of pain. Pain, as unpleasant as it is, serves a very useful biological function in that it is meant to keep us alive and uninjured.

Nevertheless human will can override nature’s basic compulsion to avoid injury/flaming death. Suppose your child is trapped under a burning beam. You might well go over and grab the burning wood with your bare hand knowing full well that you will inflict hideous pain and damage on yourself. Nonetheless you grab AND hang on to get the danger away from your child. Protecting your children is natural but protecting them to the point of serious injury to yourself is not natural. From nature’s perspective it is better to have the parent live to have more babies some other day than for the parent to risk its life in defense of its offspring (not to mention that a dead parent also usually means the offspring will die).

My point in mentioning sticking your hand in a fire is that regardless of the sensations being inflicted on you the human mind can potentially rise above them and make decisions to do things that go against the grain of the compulsion. It might take a strong mind/will that many people may lack but I believe the potential is inside everyone.

I listened to an NPR interview yesterday with one of the researchers involved with the rats. He made it clear that there was three electrodes implanted. Two that gave the sensation that there was a touch on the side of the head and one inserted in the pleasure center as a reward mechanism.

The rats were trained to turn toward the side of of their face that was “touched”. He made it clear that this was a trained reponse to stimulus and not an automatic response. So they weren’t turning from something unpleasant - they were responding to training.

How do you train a rat like this? You use the pleasure-center stimulator to give them a happy-happy feeling when they get it right.


i totally agree with that. controlling a human would be a lot more difficult with them being conscious of it.
i’m just asking if anybody thinks it would be possible to control a human like that with some conditioning if they didn’t know that they were being conditioned.

i suspect this is headed for IMHO