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Fearless in Seattle - A Vulcan Mind Meld Achieved

Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Fri, Sep 13th 2013

Calling all Trekkies! A Vulcan mind meld has been achieved - at the University of Washington, nonetheless. That's right. Researchers at the Seattle institution of higher learning have boldly gone where no researcher has gone before.

two face puzzlesHere's what they did. One researcher sat on one end of campus with an electrode-bearing cap on his head while playing a simple video game - with his mind. Apparently this is no big deal; for some time, researchers have been able to transmit brain signals that result in actions by a computer or other mechanical apparatus (like a prosthetic arm). But they didn't stop there.

At one point during the video game, the researcher envisioned moving his right hand in order to fire a cannon (it was a nice, peaceful game), making sure that he did not actually move his right hand. The electrodes on his noggin picked up the brain signals associated with this movement and transmitted them across the vast university's campus.

Enter researcher number two, who sat on the opposite side of campus wearing his own purple swim cap (no, I am not making this up), fitted with a contraption called a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil (no, it's not what you think). The cosmic coil was positioned over the part of the researcher's brain that controls the right hand's movement - the left motor cortex.

When the signal arrived at researcher number two's magic mystery helmet, he involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on his keyboard, effectively firing the cannon.

Nice work, guys! Plus, purple is the official color of Alzheimer's awareness, so I approve of the equipment.

But before you start fantasizing about Vulcan mind melding with your kids to make them do their homework, or brain-syncing with your boss to make her spill coffee down her shirt (You wouldn't do that, would you?), I must break it to you that this technology is extremely limited - for now. The researchers state that their Vulcan mind meld technology cannot transmit thoughts; it can only read simple brain signals. It also cannot be used on anyone without his or her knowledge. Let this put your devious plans to rest.

But the researchers' achievement is a first of its kind, and it could lead to great things. For instance, they provide the example of an aviation expert on the ground being able to help a pilot land a plane in the event that the pilot becomes incapacitated.

Now that's good stuff. Keep it up, guys. In the meantime, I think swim caps are about to become retro.


Begley, S. (September 3, 2013). Researchers explore benefits of illusive "Vulcan mind meld." Chicago Tribune (Kindle version).


Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.

Itís a true blessing to have you visit my blog on mental health and wellness. I also write blogs on faith and caregiving in addition to teaching part-time for Columbia College of Missouri. For more information about my background and writing, visit my webpage at

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Calling this a Vulcan Mind Meld is illogical - - Jan 6th 2015

Calling this a "Vulcan Mind Meld" takes the already-dishonest behavior of cheap publicity stunts to a new low. The technique described here by no stretch of the imagination qualifies as a Vulcan Mind Method --- and neither on a superficial level nor a substantial one does it resemble it. Calling it such just to garner the attention of STAR TREK fans is down-right disgraceful.

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