May 18, 2013
First posted on Technorati as Could Google Glass Work for Someone with Autism?
Google Glass has been in the news quite a bit lately, with concerns about privacy, the "cool" factor, and some businesses already wanting to ban the thing before it hits mainstream.
Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, praised Glass for it's more socially acceptable use over smartphones.
Glass reacts to your eye movement, finger gestures on the side, or voice commands. The video Google provides is pretty compelling, with lots of exciting things being done and hands-free computing being done at the same time.
But it got me thinking: could someone with autism use Google Glass? Could someone with a disability use Glass?
Smartphones can be very enabling in many cases. Apple, for one, uses Voiceover to make it possible to use an iOS device if you are blind. And while Android doesn't seem to have the same technology built in, there are code projects that are available for download. Being able to interact with the device directly with or without looking at it is ideal. Can Glass do the same thing?
A marketing professor at Gallaudet University (a University for the deaf and hard of hearing) presented the Google Glass demonstration videos to his Intro to Marketing classes. The response was almost unanimous: It wasn't deaf friendly. Anything that requires spoken word for interaction would be unaccessible to someone who communicates through sign language. That means that this current iteration of Glass at least would only provide minimum support for someone who doesn't communicate verbally.
But could it be used by someone with autism? Smartphones and tablets have been adopted with gusto by the autism community, because they are intuitive to use and allow persons on the spectrum who cannot communicate verbally interact with their world. The capacitive screen allows for accuracy without an implement beyond the human finger, and the display is a natural place to look when "reading".
Now take Glass.
- Glass uses eye-tracking technology, not a useful bit of tech for someone who has a hard time with eye contact as is common with those with autism.
- Glass can use voice commands, but if you don't speak, it's not much use.
- Glass can use finger gestures on the side, but it requires more fine motor skills than touching a tablet, and a direct correlation between what you see and what you do. While this is natural with the keyboard and mouse crowd, a tablet is far more useful in this regard, you are "touching" the "thing" with which you interact, not touching an interface point on the side of your head when the thing is in front of you.
- Glass requires something to touch you. That alone is a deal breaker with a community that is known for it's sensitivity to sensory events. Speaking for my children alone, I think it would be difficult to get my eldest to wear it at all.
There would be a lot of hurdles to overcome in order to make Glass accessible to someone with autism. But once accessible, would it be of benefit? Honestly, I can't see a situation when using Glass would help someone with autism beyond displaying social stories in real time with an augmented reality (which would be awesome!).
If given the choice, right now, I don't think I would recommend anyone get Google Glass for someone with autism, at least until the interface is worked out. And even then, only if an augmented reality app was invented with built-in social stories based on location were available. Given that as the killer autism app, it would be worth a look. But given a choice between a tablet and Glass? The tablet's versatility wins hands down.
May 6, 2013
I don't know what it is about the ocean. It's big, it's vast, it's wet, and it's fascinated me ever since I first stepped foot in the Pacific back in 1993. Since then I have been swimming and body surfing, but one thing I have always wanted to do was sail.
Perhaps it's the ancestral Scottish blood that speaks when I look at the sailboats, or perhaps it's the thought of being able to cross vast bodies of water with nothing but the wind to push you along, but I have dreamed of getting a sailboat and sailing. But, in order to even think about that, I first need to have experience.
Last Saturday (May 4th), our scout troop went boating in Mission Bay. We went to the San Diego Youth Aquatic Center on Fiesta Island and rented three kayaks, three canoes three sailboats, and one motorboat to chase after any wayward boats for 16 boys and six leaders. It was $30 per boat, and each boat really only held two people, or three little scouts.
We started with the canoes and kayaks, taking the boys out and watching them try to maneuver. They got a handle on it eventually, but spent a lot of time downwind in a little bay. Eventually the scouts got more interested in swimming in the warm water (at least 70 degrees in the bay) than boating. We broke for Lunch, and then started out on the sailboats.
After a 10 minute introduction to sailing, and a little time rigging up a sailboat, I was sent out with one of the scouts to give it a try. We managed to tack without a problem a couple of times, but once trying to turn while going full out the sail de-rigged itself and left us stranded. The scout did a great job holding us into the wind as I re-rigged the sailboat, and we were off again. After that I took him back to the shore and set off with a another scout.
Sailing is pretty awesome. It's a balance of controlling the sail to keep it in the wind just enough to fill the sail and get forward thrust, while not letting it out too much as to unballance the boat (we were on little 10 footers) to tip it over. You are controlling the mainsheet and the rudder at the same time, and it's a blast. We sailed to one end to the other in the small part of Mission Bay, and enjoyed it. I was told I had managed to earn my Sailing merit badge (assuming I were still young enough to earn them).
Then the scout took over to practice. He did pretty good with the first tack, but when turning back we caught a gust of wind, the mainsheet got caught, and it flipped us into the water. I tell you, my Lifeproof case got a workout that day, as I treaded water and we worked to get the boat back upright again. Incase any of you are wondering, yes, the Lifeproof case worked perfectly, even in three feet of water.
So, did the dunking discourage me from wanting to sail? No, other than I was freezing once I got out of the water (windchill is crazy). But it was time to go, so we started cleaning up and putting the boats away. But I got caught up with the fun of sailing, the simple joy, and the sheer fun of sailing. When I got home, I immediately wanted to look up sailboats, pricing, and so on. Not that I can afford to buy a boat (for now), and not that my wife would be too thrilled to have a sailboat anyway (for now), but it caught my imagination.
For those who have never tried sailing, try it! It's fun, it's not as difficult as you might think (it's just physics), and once you get the feel of it, it's pretty close to being just as fun as riding a motorcycle.
April 30, 2013
Article first published as Voice4U Special Offer: AAC app for Professionals on Technorati.
I've posted before about applications available on iOS in the past that were useful to helping children with autism communicate and learn. Some have focused on learning life skills, such as Look In My Eyes, or others have been on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Most often, they are apps that I have either read about or managed to try myself. Rarely do I get the opportunity or pleasure to have a company make a special offer to all professionals who are looking for an app to recommend.
Today, I got one. Yumi Kubo, co-founder of Spectrum Visions Global, Inc. sent me an email regarding their product, Voice4u. The App, an AAC application, has received general positive reviews from what I can see. Yumi made me aware of a program where they grant licenses for their product to NPO's, therapists, and school teachers for free. You can find more information here, and sign up for a free license.
But why is this such a big deal? Well, mobile devices have made a huge difference in the world of autism. Their impact has spawned events such as the AT&T-Autism Speaks Mobile App Hackathon, headlined this year by reigning Miss Montana and former Miss America contestant Alexis Wineman, which focuses on developing mobile applications to assist those with autism. Parents and autism specialists have gravitated to tablets as tools to help their children communicate, learn, and display their intelligence.
Tablets, particularly capacitive display tablets like iPad, Xoom, or the Galaxy Tab, present a simple gross-motor interface (using a pointed finger to "touch" something) in order to relate that event to something directly. For instance, a child with autism can touch a picture of a cat and have the tablet say "cat" for them. It requires less translation between action and result than, say, a keyboard which requires you to hit a key and expect a result. Add to the fact that these tablets and phones are more mobile than a full blown computer, and you have a great combination.
Applications merely translate this gross motor behavior into the desired result. With AAC applications, you can tap a picture to have the word "said" for you. Some will let you drag your pictures into a "sentence", and then you can play that sentence. Others will convert text to speech, encourage looking someone in the eye, or provide learning events as games to engage the student. These mobile devices may have unlocked the door, but the applications make all the difference.
But the elephant in the room is the cost of the application. Even for a trial run, you have to purchase the app. And AAC or other autism-specific applications are not inexpensive. They range from the most expensive (and comprehensive) app at $189.00 to others that are free, but require several in-app purchases to be made extensive. It's nice to see these apps issued free to those professionals in need of the free trial for evaluation, so they can with confidence offer that same application to parents.
April 19, 2013
I love to wear my jeans when I can. They provide protection while on the bike, feel comfortable when out and about, and are generally my favorite color (blue). Little did I know, there was an International day to wear them. April 24th.
It's not because they are stylish, or because they are comfortable, or because they are blue. But rather, apparently, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans at the time of the assault. The justices stated that the woman must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, therefore inferring consent. This ruling came down April 24th, 1999.
Because of this outrageous ruling, wearing jeans on the anniversary of this day has become a symbol of protest against sexual violence, and the destructive attitudes that stigmatize the victims. The UCSD Women's Center has asked that the staff, faculty and students show their support by wearing denim on this day.
So for those of you who don't generally wear denim, April 24th is the day to do it. If you normally wear denim, for that date at least you can wear denim for a cause. Sexual violence is a cancer that needs to stop, and those who erroneously believe the victims "deserve it" need to be reeducated. I ask that you all wear your jeans in support of this ideal. Let's be comfortable for a cause.
April 15, 2013
The BBC is reporting the success of "growing" laboratory kidneys and implanting them in living animals, with the result of creating urine. This is huge news, and shows progress in one very important area: transplant organs.
Organ transplants remain a very complicated procedure, with the need of finding donors, matching them to needy recipients, and doctors having the difficulty having to prioritize need for the very limited supply of donor organs. Being able to "grow" organs from stem cells has been a holy grail for transplant doctors, because it would mean being able to grow a replacement organ from a patient's own stem cells that works properly without worrying about rejection. Because even if there is a great match for donation, there is a limit on how long the organ will remain viable with anti-rejection drugs.
Many of my friends and family know that my wife is a living donor, having donated a kidney to her brother when we were married for 6 months. It was an ordeal for all of us, but her brother is alive and well with a working kidney. But to think that he could have his own kidney, fully functioning, no anti-rejection pills, that's something that I think would be fabulous.
The donation process was an amazing process, bringing the whole family closer together as we looked for ways to help my brother in law and my wife through the ordeal. I wouldn't want to take that process of closeness, bonding, and connection away from anyone. But I can't wait until those who need kidneys, hearts, lungs, livers, etc. will no longer need to wait for years on a waiting list, or search through family members for close matches, and can have the life-saving transplant in a matter of months. This is an exciting time, and it makes me hopeful for the future!
April 8, 2013
I am hesitant at best to go to a diner with our boys on the spectrum. The noise is severe, they are often very busy, and the service is often very slow. Normally this isn't a problem, because it gives the patrons a chance to talk, gossip, and socialize. For people with autism, however, the noise is painful, the wait unbearable.
This past week we had some family visit, and at the end of their visit we went out to breakfast at Denny's on Kearny Villa Road and Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. The diner was quiet, as it was early in the morning, with only a few patrons. We had a large group (10), so it took them some time to arrange our seats.
When we sat down, my oldest started to exhibit signs of a meltdown. We made our drink order, and shortly afterward our server came and got our food order. After making our order, I specifically asked that the boy's food be brought out first because they have autism and it would alleviate any problems with the wait. Our server, Andrea, took note and went away.
As the family talked, I took my oldest for a walk as we waited for our food. We walked to the rest room, he washed his hands, and we walked back. Shortly after returning to our seats, the food came for the boys! I was surprised, as this is the first time when I have asked for the boy's food first at a restaurant, and it actually came first. I was very impressed.
But there was a slight problem: the cooks made the breakfast with pancakes instead of toast. Andrea apologized, and said she didn't want to take the plates back, but would bring out the toast when it was done. This was also very impressive, as we were not charged for the pancakes. Andrea did her best to make sure our boys were comfortable.
When we left, I made sure her manager knew just how helpful Andrea was in accommodating our son's needs. She did a stellar job, and I hope she is commended for it.
As I said earlier, we don't often go to diners as they are perfect places for meltdowns. But this Denny's experience was perhaps the best possible experience we could have had, with staff that were understanding and willing to accommodate. I would recommend them to any family who have children with autism in the San Diego area.
April 2, 2013
It's World Autism Awareness Day today, April 2nd. That means it's time for the World to focus on what autism is, how it impacts families, and what we need to do as a world community to help those who are unable to help themselves.
According to the latest CDC estimates, 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 have autism, with the official number for all children still holding at 1 in 88. Think about that. Put 50 first graders in a room, and at least one will have autism. That's where we are.
So where do we go? A lot of energy is focused on finding out why autism is so common, and from there what action needs to be taken. Some people talk of cures, some people talk of lawsuits, others say it's who they are and don't try to "cure" me. Personally, the causes don't mean a whole lot for those that currently have autism, as they just need to know how to manage themselves in this world.
But in order for that to happen, they need to find a place. Our children need to find schools that will educate them based on their needs. They need healthcare that is supportive, willing to provide for the very expensive costs of therapy necessary to help these remarkable children succeed. They need local, State, and federal governments who are understanding and willing to create this environment to help them succeed. They need ordinary people like you and me to be willing to accept them for who they are, and willing to help when it's needed, and give them space when they need it.
Tonight, many cities around the world will switch their white lighting around their buildings to blue. It will look pretty, and many people will feel they have done their duty. Much like wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, green for Saint Patrick's Day, etc. Some will buy ribbons, stickers, buttons, or magnets to display their support for this one day for autism awareness. Tweets, walls, and other social media posts will be dripping with support and awareness messages. It's great, because the news is getting out there.
But it's not enough to wear blue, use blue lightbulbs, or buy a ribbon. While we take this day to focus on autism, we need to focus on helping those with autism get the education they need in the best environment, get jobs, be productive, and feel comfortable in society. Autism isn't a one day thing, ask any parent with a child on the spectrum. It's an every minute thing, because you are "on" every minute of every day. Autism is on every minute of every day.
So, today, please show your support for those with autism, and continue that support tomorrow, the next day, and so on. Children with autism are very special children, and deserve to be seen as children, not a diagnosis.
March 19, 2013
If blame needs to be assigned, I suppose you could throw it at Apple. They started it, with their own operating system on the first Macintosh. Then they introduced the iPod that played music from iTunes, which brought the iTunes store. Then they introduced the iOS devices, the App Store, then the App Store to for the Mac, and as such started to control the user experience through an ecosystem. Everyone told them they were crazy from Microsoft to Google, from tech pundits to grandmothers.
Now, Microsoft is doing it with their cloud offerings, Google is starting it with their Android-only software releases and Google Chrome app store, and even Samsung is starting to build their own ecosystem for their phones, regardless of their OS. Now everyone is all about building a walled garden of some sort, in order to control the user experience.
Why? That may sound like a crazy question from an Apple user, but I think it needs to be asked. An ecosystem doesn't in and of itself guarantee success of a company, but it seems to work for Apple. So why is everyone trying to copy it when it was considered such a lousy idea?
Suppose you as a user want to install an application. In the good old days of Microsoft dominance with a few Macs and Linux boxes out there, you would have to go down to a computer store and pick it up. Or perhaps you would purchase an online download of the software. Either way, you had to actively go out and find the software you wanted, make sure it was compatible for your platform, purchase it, then run the installer.
Linux, interestingly enough, started streamlining this process. RedHat, Mandriva, Ubuntu, etc. would provide cloud-based "app stores" where you just run your install command and it would, well, install your application, service, or tool. Don't have all the required dependencies installed? It would install those as well. This was a HUGE improvement over the old fashioned way of grabbing an app from some repository somewhere, try to install, get dependency errors, try to install dependencies, get more dependency errors, and spend a week trying to configure and install an application. It made it convenient for users, and many in my Linux classes saw this as a way to get more people using Linux in the mainstream.
But no one took Linux's direction seriously, because they didn't have to. People were already conditioned into the "go and buy" process that they didn't really care what Linux was doing. But another platform that had a small footprint in the general computer environment, and therefore a small footprint in the PC-heavy software store, found it difficult to get good software to their users. So Apple, after seeing the success of the App Store on the iPhone, figured they could just import that to the Mac. It made sense, and now there are thousands of Mac apps available from big box and independent developers available to anyone with a Mac to purchase. And still people scoffed, particularly when big box companies like Adobe and Microsoft were reluctant to share 30% of the sales with Apple just for a spot on their App Store.
But with the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has built an App Store for Windows. Part of that is because Windows 8 really is developed for a tablet to use, but it's also a brilliant marketing move in that Microsoft can now, just like Apple, RedHat and the like, have more control over the client's computing experience. Clients now have easy access to applications that do what they want without having to read boxes, look at shelves, drive to a busy mall, etc.
So what about Google, they are just all about the cloud right? Well, sort of, but then they released two operating systems: Android, and Chrome. Android, which has matured quite nicely with Jelly Bean, provided they can keep more continuity between developers. The one really poor thing about Android is the varying quality of devices on which it sits. Sure, you have the high end devices like the Galaxy S4, but you also have really cheap android devices that just barely work. Add onto that a confusing App Store experience, and Android really struggled.
But Google quickly wised up and developed Google Play, an almost exact copy of iTunes and the App Store. Now with the one stop shop, they can control the quality of the apps, help limit some of the historical security issues with apps (lots of malware and spyware on that platform in the past), and control the user experience from sign in to purchase. More control means better experiences for the users, which leads to more adoption of the platform.
Amazon did the same thing with the Kindle Fire, as did Barnes and Noble with the Nook. Sure, they may not be "Android Tablets" like the Galaxy Tab or Motorolla Xoom, but they run Android, Android apps, and have complete top to bottom ecosystems that support them. Great control over the platform means good customer experiences.
So what does this really mean? Ecosystems mean loyal customers, because loyal customers have good customer experiences. The more you build out your ecosystem, the more dedicated your customer base.
But what about the drawbacks? Having used Windows 8, just about every Apple product, and Android devices, I now have three ecosystems to which I belong. For years I've used Google cloud services, but I'm starting to ween myself from them because many of the services I enjoyed are going or have gone away (iGoogle, Google Reader, Google Wave to name a few). The Windows ecosystem has been something new in which I have dabbled, as it plugs into many of the services I already have for my Macs. Apple already has me currently, and as long as the experience remains good, they will have me for a long time.
The consequence of these ecosystems are several email addresses of which I need to keep track, apps that I have purchased remain unavailable unless I use a device within the ecosystem, and I feel frustrated at times when I want to use a feature that I find great in one ecosystem that doesn't exist in the other.
Perhaps one day it will no longer be a problem, and all the ecosystems will exist in harmony. After all, we are still, technically, in early days within the mobile computing world. Perhaps the issue will be resolved some other way.
But in the mean time, what do you think about the computing ecosystems developing? What do you see as pro's or cons?
March 14, 2013
Let me preface this blog post with declaring the fact that I'm a Mac user. I've been certified as an instructor for Apple since OS X 10.4, and I've been a huge supporter of using mobile tablets as laptop replacements because of iOS. With this in mind, let me give you my review of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Samsung.
First, the feel was very light, much lighter than my iPad. This is most likely because the case is plastic instead of aluminum. I'm not going to say it feels "cheaper", but it makes me more nervous to have my kids use it, as they are pretty rough with tablets (a couple have been dropped down the stairs, and took it like troopers!). Aluminum feels more robust.
The OS originally was older, most likely Froyo (though it could have been Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread). The tablet registered as a phone, much to my annoyance. 30 minutes later, after running the update, I was on Jelly Bean, and the look was much more like a tablet. That being said, I wasn't able to install Lync 2010 for Android, because it wasn't available for my device. Not sure why, but that was annoying. Other than that, most of the other apps I use regularly I was able to install without a problem.
In comparing this tablet with my experience with the Motorolla Zoom, I think this tablet wins out. The Zoom was obviously older hardware, as apps would crash regularly. I didn't have that problem on the Galaxy Tab, even with the prior OS installed. The apps were quick, responsive, and worked as I would have expected a tablet to work.
So what did I like?
- Weight: The weight was the first thing that struck me. It had to be half the weight of the first iPad, and that made it a pleasure to hold. It's slightly lighter in feel to the iPad last generation, and much heavier than the Motorolla Xoom.
- Performance: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 had some great performance overall. Everything snapped well, worked well, came up quickly. Large documents, 3D games, and various other general tests I ran went well. Once configured, this little baby was a great tablet.
What I didn't like:
- Keyboard: The keyboard in Google Drive and other apps was, essentially, a large phone keyboard. It was difficult to type (and I'm used to typing on a tablet screen), making it a pain. I'm sure with some more practice it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but having less space between the "keys" wouldn't have killed them, would it?
- Configuration: Configuring everything from email to wireless to social networking was more complicated in my opinion than it should have to be. Of course I'm used to the preconfigured settings available to the iPad, so I'm spoiled for time, but I shouldn't have to take 5 to 10 minutes to set up my email when I want to get some work done now. Of course, if you have special settings, complicated setups, or just plain want to have a lot of control, then it's not that big a deal (and actually preferable). Personally, I like things to just work so I can, instead of working at getting things to work.
- Front-facing Camera: I was testing Skype using my iPad and the Samsung Galaxy tab. The display from the iPad front-facing camera was stellar, looking great in the call. The display from the Galaxy was, well, badly pixellated. They were both on the same network, so I'm going to assign this to the cameras. Still, not everyone uses their tablet for video conferencing, right?
- USB Port: Okay, I don't have one on the iPad so this shouldn't bother me, right? But the Galaxy Tab doesn't have a USB, micro or otherwise, on it as does the Motorolla Xoom. You don't even have a mini or microSD port. Just a 30-pin adapter, much like the old iPads. Not exactly the same, I might add, they are not interchangeable, but still very, very similar.
- Default Apps and Home Screen: The setup was confusing, nothing worked until you had everything configured, and even then some of the apps didn't work. Most of the apps in question were Samsung specific, which I quickly removed from the Home screen.
All in all, the Galaxy Tab was a great tablet, it gave me an experience that was closer to my iPad than the Motorolla Zoom, it did the job over all, and my kids chose to use it if an iPad wasn't available (they often overlooked the Xoom). It was missing some of the features that I've come to expect from my iPad, such as controls on my earbuds, but that's something that you can only expect from a company like Apple that wants to integrate and release the entire experience at once. If you are looking for an Android tablet, Samsung makes a great one.
But I'm still glad I have my iPad.
So, any opinions from anyone out there? What do you think?
March 13, 2013
I was disgusted to read in Forbes of a treatment center that uses electroshock therapy, known as "contingent shock" in the United States today as a form of therapy. The founder of this treatment center, a follower of B. F. Skinner (a famous behaviorist) has been using negative reinforcement techniques for years to try and resolve behavior problems with children who have developmental disabilities or mental illness.
While electroconvulsive therapy has been used for years in the treatment of people with mental disorders or depression, it's a therapy done when the patient is anesthesia and usually only as a last resort as it remains controversial. Contingent shock therapy, on the other hand, is given to someone while they are conscious, aware, and performing undesirable behaviors.
The therapy is based on the work of B. F. Skinner's "Skinner Box" he developed during his research time at Harvard in the 1930's which placed lab rats in a box with an floor that could be charged with electricity anytime the rodent did a behavior that was undesirable. Slowly, the rodent would learn not to do the behavior, and therefore not get shocked.
Since the early 1900's, when autism was first used to describe a range of psychological conditions, it had a stigma associated with mental illness. In 1911, Eugen Bleuler first used the term to refer to a group of symptoms of schizophrenia. In the 1940's, researchers in the US used the term to describe children with emotional or social problems, often called pediatric schizophrenia. And because of this, as of the 1960's, doctors had a direct link between autism and schizophrenia in their minds.
So during the 1960's and 1970's, research into autism treatments focused on medications like LSD and negative (punishment) behavior change techniques like electric shocks, pinching, spanking, and even breaking vials of ammonia under the nose. Contingent shock, which is a shock administered after an undesirable behavior has begun or happened, is a direct decedent of this practice.
What's interesting is research exists out there to suggest that any gains using these methods are temporary, and not permanent. In 1968 Todd Risley found in his research that there is no permanent gain in behavior when people receive these electric shocks. This was back in 1968 with the research was fresh, the technique in vogue, and the results were quickly ascertained. Lichstein and Schreibman found in 1976 that while the techniques seemed to work, it was often very traumatic for the clinician (often more so) than the patient.
The technique remains controversial, particularly since the U.N. has now declared the therapy as practiced by the Judge Rotenberg Center is torture as outlined in the U.N. Convention against Torture. Why? Because the voltage used in the personal devices administering the electric shock can and does leave a mark that can last for days.
So, the question remains, should this method of treatment be allowed, given the current application and research? Has any other research been done? And even if the research suggests electrocuting someone to modify behavior works, should it be used in this day and age when spanking is strongly discouraged?
I've seen a couple more recent articles, one by the founder of the Judge Rotenberg Center, and one other, that extolled the virtues of contingent shock therapy. But I can't get past the image presented in the book, The Alliance where whole masses were controlled using electric shocks embedded in the brain. It's an extreme jump I admit, but it's still the image that comes to my mind.