What could an evil neurosurgeon do to someone?

Given the current state of the science of neurology, what could a totally amoral neurosurgeon (presumably with access to the needed equipment and drugs) do to some poor victim? Besides simply turning them into a vegetable with a lobotomy? Erase their memory? “Mindwipe” them and create a new personality in their body? Turn them into a robot assassin ala’ Manchurian Candidate? A sex slave? Naturally most of this has probably never been actually tested on a human being, but presuming that anything that can be done to a rhesus monkey can be done to a human, what has been demonstrated as possible?

Well, a lobotomy generally doesn’t turn a person into “a vegetable,” though it certainly has serious side effects. A person’s memory and personality can be affected by gross damage to any number of areas of the brain. This requires a blow to the head, not a neurosurgeon, though a neurosurgeon could do it as well. Parts of the brain can be stimulated to evoke memory but I don’t know if that can be replicated with any certainty (i.e., to get the same response each time). You could sever the corpus collosum and cause some effects that impair function. I assume you can induce seizures. You can blind or paralyze a person. I suppose you could deliberately damage the hypothalamus to induce Kluver-Bucy syndrome. Generally speaking, you can’t make a person your automaton a la Spock’s Brain.

I am a former student in behavioral neuroscience. One of the worst things that can be done actually was done routinely and in great number. Frontal lobotomies disrupt consciousness at its very core and practitioners became so proficient at it that it only required a van, an ice pick, and 5 minutes to destroy much of the tissue that makes us human. An early researcher at my undergrad university paid the homeless, prostitutes etc. do do some experiments that involved stimulating the brain’s pleasure centers with electrodes. Many reported an almost out of body orgasmic experience.

My own research was in the neuroscience of sexual differentiation. I am 99% certain that we could produce all kinds of sexual deviance (scientifically speaking) including homosexuality just through a series of in utero injections. Nobody has ever tried in humans but it is extremely routine in animal experiments now.

They could destroy the area of the brain that paralyses you while you sleep, causing you to act out your dreams; they do it with animals.

They might be able to induce an artificial version of fatal insomnia.

bwahaha…what a terrific thread.

retreats to secret lair

If you severed it completely, you’d essentially end up with two separate minds in one body. Due to the differences in function in the hemispheres, one of the minds would be spatially disoriented (among other problems) and, of course, very angry at you. The other (and I’d hate to be this one) would lose nearly all language perception and symbolic thinking. This poor soul would be confused, frustrated, and unable to communicate. I get a bit scared thinking about that prospect.

And yet that is done today for certain patients with severe epilepsy and no other options. They usually return to a semi-normal life and casual observers can’t tell although experiments will reveal some bizarre results such as the left hand literally not knowing what the right hand is doing.