Tribute to Jose Delgado, Legendary and Slightly Scary Pioneer of Mind Control

John Horgan in Scientific American:

8DB54395-72F4-48AF-8E850896766C5751Once among the world’s most acclaimed scientists, Jose Manuel Rodriguez Delgado has become an urban legend, whose career is shrouded in misinformation. Delgado pioneered that most unnerving of technologies, the brain chip, which manipulates the mind by electrically stimulating neural tissue with implanted electrodes. Long a McGuffin of science fictions, from The Terminal Man to The Matrix, brain chips are now being tested as treatments for epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, paralysis, depression, and other disorders.

In part because it was relatively unencumbered by ethical regulations, Delgado’s research rivaled and even surpassed much of what is being done today. In 1965, The New York Times reported on its front page that he had stopped a charging bull in its tracks by sending a radio signal to a device implanted in its brain. He also implanted radio-equipped electrode arrays, which he called “stimoceivers,” in dogs, cats, monkeys, chimpanzees, gibbons, and humans. With the push of a button, he could evoke smiles, snarls, bliss, terror, hunger, garrulousness, lust, and other responses.

Delgado described his results in hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and in a widely reviewed 1969 book, but these are rarely if ever cited by modern researchers. One reason may be that in 1974 he left Yale, his base for more than two decades, to return to Spain, his birthplace. He was at the peak of his career. A cover story in The New York Times Magazine had just hailed him as the “impassioned prophet of a new ‘psychocivilized society’ whose members would influence and alter their own mental functions.”

More here.