Wirehead (science fiction)
Wirehead is a term used in science fiction works to denote different kinds of interaction between people and technology. The typical wirehead idea is that of a wire going into a human's brain and safe amounts of electricity applied to the wire-conductor to directly interact with the brain.
- 1 Written fiction
- 2 Film and television
- 3 Non-fictional examples
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Known Space stories
In Larry Niven's Known Space stories, a wirehead is someone who has been fitted with an electronic brain implant (called a "droud" in the stories) to stimulate the pleasure centres of their brain. In the Known Space universe, wireheading is the most addictive habit known (Louis Wu is the only given example of a recovered addict), and wireheads usually die from neglecting themselves in favour of the ceaseless pleasure. Wireheading is so powerful and easy that it becomes an evolutionary pressure, selecting against that portion of Known Space humanity without self-control. Also in this science fiction there is a device called a "tasp" (similar to transcranial magnetic stimulation) that does not need a surgical implant; the pleasure center of a person's brain is found and remotely stimulated (considered a violation without seeking the person's consent beforehand), an important device in the Ringworld novels.
A wirehead's death is central to Niven's Gil 'the Arm' Hamilton story, "Death by Ecstasy", published by Galaxy Magazine in 1969, and a main character in the book Ringworld Engineers is a former wirehead trying to quit.
Niven's stories explain wireheads by mentioning a study in which experimental rats had electrodes implanted at strategic locations in their brains, so that an applied current would induce a pleasant feeling. If the current could be obtained any time the rats pushed the lever, they would use it over and over, ignoring food and physical necessities until they died. Such experiments were actually conducted by James Olds and Peter Milner in the 1950s, first discovering the locations of such areas, and later showing extremes to which rats would go to obtain the stimulus again.
Mindkiller, a 1982 sci-fi novel by Spider Robinson set in the late 1980s, explores the social implications of technologies to manipulate the brain, beginning with wireheading, the use of electric current to stimulate the pleasure center of the brain in order to achieve a narcotic high.
The Terminal Man
In The Terminal Man (1972) by Michael Crichton, forty electrodes are implanted into the brain of the character Harold Franklin "Harry" Benson to control seizures. However, his pleasure center is also stimulated, and his body begins producing more seizures to receive the pleasurable sensation.
Film and television
In the 1983 film "Brainstorm" a wireless brain connection machine is made. A character named Hal Abramson abuses the device with a signal of never ending sexual pleasure.
The Outer Limits 1995 TV series
The Centurions (animated series)
In episode 41, "Zone Dancer" of The Centurions animated series, the lead character Crystal Kane is accused of "Zone Dancing" (the series' term for computer hacking) and seen using a "droud" to interface her brain with computer networks in what is probably the first animated representation of cyberspace and virtual reality. The story, written by Michael Reaves, weaves a future noir tale of cyberpunk espionage, cloning and private-eye procedural, all set in the universe of the animated series and makes copious references to William Gibson's Neuromancer. There is even a Zone Dancer named Gibson and, in what may be an homage to Larry Niven's Louis Wu, a cyberneticst named Dr. Wu.
The title character of the television show House is a physician who suffers from chronic pain. In the episode "Half-Wit", House seeks a medical procedure to stimulate the "pleasure center" of his brain.
Dr. Robert Galbraith Heath actually placed electrodes in his subjects' brains in the 1950s to try to treat their mental illness. Dr. Heath wrote several papers on his work of stimulating the various regions of the brain.
José Manuel Rodriguez Delgado also placed electrodes in his patients' brains. He called his inventions a "stimoceiver" and a "chemitrode".
- 1953 "Induced paroxysmal electrical activity in man recorded simultaneously through subcortical and scalp electrodes" 
- 1955: The patient, a 27-year-old housewife "Stimulation of the amygdaloid nucleus in a schizophrenic patient" by Robert Galbraith Heath
- 1963: "Electrical self-stimulation of the brain in man" by Robert Galbraith Heath.
- 1972: A 24-year-old man with temporal lobe epilepsy, identified as patient "B-19". "He was permitted to wear the device for 3 hours at a time: on one occasion he stimulated his septal region 1,200 times, on another occasion 1,500 times, and on a third occasion 900 times. He protested each time the unit was taken from him, pleading to self-stimulate just a few more times..." 
- 1986: A 48-year-old woman with chronic pain. "The patient self-stimulated throughout the day, neglecting personal hygiene and family commitments."
- 1986: To treat patients suffering from pain due to cancer Dr Young and Dr Brechner made a study of electrical stimulation of the brain.
- 2012: Cathy Hutchinson who is paralyzed had one hundred electrodes placed on the surface of her brain. With this brain–computer interface she is able to control a variety of devices.
- 2013: A 49-year-old, right-handed woman had multiple electrodes placed in her brain for epilepsy. She reported an orgasmic ecstasy following the stimulation of the left hippocampus.
- 2016: The New England Journal of Medicine describes a growing do-it-yourself (DIY) medical engineering culture that includes DIY transcranial direct-current stimulation 
- José Manuel Rodriguez Delgado
- Robert Galbraith Heath
- James Olds
- Wilder Penfield
- Drug addiction
- The Experience Machine
- Brain stimulation reward (BSR)
- Electrical brain stimulation
- DBS Deep brain stimulation
- RNS Responsive neurostimulation device
- Brain stimulation
- Nucleus accumbens
- Brain implant
- Pleasure center
- Brain–computer interface
- "Click" adult/erotic comic by Milo Manara
- Pain and pleasure#Deep brain stimulation
- A YouTube video of a patient with wires embedded in their brain. At time index 1:24
- Time Magazine February 2011
- The Perils of Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression. Author Danielle Egan. September 24, 2015.
- [non-primary source needed] Horn A, Kühn A (2015). "Lead-DBS: a toolbox for deep brain stimulation electrode localizations and visualizations". NeuroImage. 107: 127–35. PMID 25498389. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.12.002.
- Olds J, Milner P (Dec 1954). "Positive reinforcement produced by electrical stimulation of septal area and other regions of rat brain". Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. 47 (6): 419–27. PMID 13233369. doi:10.1037/h0058775.
- Olds J (1958). "Self-Stimulation of the Brain". Science. 127 (3294): 315–324. doi:10.1126/science.127.3294.315.
- Faria MA (2013). "Violence, mental illness, and the brain - A brief history of psychosurgery: Part 3 - From deep brain stimulation to amygdalotomy for violent behavior, seizures, and pathological aggression in humans". Surg Neurol Int. 4: 91. PMC . PMID 23956934. doi:10.4103/2152-7806.115162.
- "For the mentally ill Pacemakers regulate the brain" Newspaper "The Spokesman Review" May 8, 1977.
- HEATH, RG; PEACOCK SM, Jr; MILLER W, Jr (1953). "Induced paroxysmal electrical activity in man recorded simultaneously through subcortical and scalp electrodes.". Transactions of the American Neurological Association. 3 (78th Meeting): 247–50. PMID 13179226.
- Heath RG, Monroe RR, Mickle WA (1955). "STIMULATION OF THE AMYGDALOID NUCLEUS IN A SCHIZOPHRENIC PATIENT". American Journal of Psychiatry. 111 (11): 862–863. PMID 14361778. doi:10.1176/ajp.111.11.862.
- Heath R.G. (1963). "Electrical self-stimulation of the brain in man". American Journal of Psychiatry. 120 (6): 571–577. doi:10.1176/ajp.120.6.571.
- Moan C.E., Heath R.G. (1972). "Septal stimulation for the initiation of heterosexual activity in a homosexual male". Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 3: 23–30. doi:10.1016/0005-7916(72)90029-8.
- Young Ronald F (1986). "Electrical stimulation of the brain for relief of intractable pain due to cancer". Cancer. 57: 1266–1272. doi:10.1002/1097-0142(19860315)57:6<1266::AID-CNCR2820570634>3.0.CO;2-Q.
- "Paralyzed woman uses mind-control technology to operate robotic arm" by Scott Pelley CBS News May 16, 2012.
- Surbecka Werner, Bouthillierb Alain, Khoa Nguyenc Dang (2013). "Bilateral cortical representation of orgasmic ecstasy localized by depth electrodes". Epilepsy & Behavior Case Reports. 1: 62–65. doi:10.1016/j.ebcr.2013.03.002.
- Greene JA (2016). "Do-It-Yourself Medical Devices — Technology and Empowerment in American Health Care". New England Journal of Medicine. 374 (4): 305–308. PMID 26816009. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1511363.