Dog expert Uri Bakeman discovered dogs can identify brain waves remotely. The next step: identifying the enemy
Uri Bakeman. The dogs identify brain waves. Photo by: Yossi Zeliger
In 1995, Uri Bakeman (59) a dog expert from Herzlia, began to train warning dogs for epileptics. A short time later, Bakeman received reports from two mothers of boys aged 15 and 16 that the dogs had given warning when the boys were at school and they were at home. Then, for the first time, it crossed his mind that dogs may not be giving warning due to body language or smell. At the same time Bakeman was updated by the late Smadar Sachs, president of the Retriever Club in the Israeli Kennel Club, that her diabetic friend had a Golden Retriever that began to give independent warning of falls and rises in her blood sugar levels. “I then gathered I could train dogs for diabetics and began to look for resources,” he said.
In early 2000, at the request of Dr. Morris Laster from Jerusalem, Bakeman began to train a diabetic warning bitch for his wife, Gail Laster. He still remembers the moment when he was in his office and the bitch began to give warning. “I didn’t realize it at first because the office was in Nordia in the Sharon region, over 90km from Jerusalem where Dr. Laster’s wife was,” says Bakeman. “For an entire hour the bitch budged every 10-15 seconds and urinated, when a normal puppy urinates once an hour. Those were symptoms that characterize a dog exhibiting ‘anxiety for a leader’. Two minutes later, when I gathered the warning might be real, I phone Gail and asked her to test her blood sugar due to the dog’s warning. 10 minutes later Gail phoned me and told me she had had a fall in blood sugar and it took her an hour to stabilize.” However, this was not the only case. Bakeman says “the following day it happened again. That was when both Morris and I gathered it had nothing to do with smell or body language. I began to call it ‘brain print’. The dog not only identified particular transmitted waves but also that it belonged to her. In other words, these waves have some sort of fingerprint, identification. I gathered it was something big. Dr. Laster and I sat down and talked and he told me he would like an instrument that would have the dog’s ability to read brain waves remotely and know everything that was happening far away. We decided to work together in cooperation with other scientists to try to develop eventually an instrument that could read and implant thoughts based on the capabilities of a dog that can read brain waves.”
Warnings are expressed only in excess urination and restlessness?
“Depends on the type of distress the person is in. Warning levels begin from level 1 to level 4 plus which is death warning.”
From what distance can a dog sense those waves?
“In 2010 we decided to test that. Gail’s diabetes dog remained with me in Ramat Hasharon when she flew to New York. The dog gave successful warning 86 percent of the time. There was one false alarm and a “miss” of two cases of a drop in sugar. In both cases Gail was aboard a plane. There was no communication between us, they recorded their results and I recorded mine. I gathered that when a person was aboard a flight there was a barrier in wave transmission.”
Did you try to place the patient or the dog in different locations to examine what blocks the ‘waves’?
“No, we will do it when we study the mechanism after we obtain the budget.”
When you realized you were going to take part in such a large development, what did you do?
“I went to consult my childhood friend, Rabbi Abner Tunik, head of Nachat Ruach Yeshiva in Moshav Tifrach in the south. He told me ‘if God gave this to you – you must continue the process and he will decide who will use these capabilities and how’. He gave me an example of a car that could be a very good vehicle traveling from place to place and extremely helpful. But in incapable hands it can be deadly.”
5 years later, the first study on the subject began at the Pardessia mental hospital. When the study was over, Bakeman was requested to repeat it, this time accompanied by academics. He joined forces with Igal Cohen-Orgad, chairman of the board of Ariel University, and the late Prof. Esther Prida, who repeated the study in Abarbanel Mental Hospital, Bat Yam. After Prof. Prida’s death in 2010, Hodaya Eilam, a doctoral student from her lab, continued the study and since 2011 it has continued under the guidance of Dr. Sharon Anavi-Goffer, manager of the psycho-pharmacological lab in the Ariel University behavioral science department. As of now, six leading scientists specializing in the brain from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheba, The Technion in Haifa and Ariel University have joined forces in this research. We gathered them together in a Jerusalem coffee shop to answer the question, brain print – is it possible?
The experts speak out
Dr. Laster, a physician and scientist who develops drugs and medical instruments, explained in a conversation with the scientist that “the future is not that far away. If we have the financial resources – it could even be in the range of 6 years.”
His colleagues, including Dr. Sharon Anavi-Gofer and Prof. Abraham Zangen, brain scientists from the Ben Gurion University life sciences department, Prof. Vladimir Guttner, physicist from Ben Gurion University on sabbatical at San Diego University and Prof. Avi Avital, brain scientist from the Technion – some of whom disagreed with him.
Laster said “the story began when I was on a business trip and my wife, who suffers from diabetes mellitus remained at home with our two young daughters. I phone home and she told me she was suffering from hypo, a drop in blood sugar, and shortly after that she fainted. We are talking about something that happened before the age of smart phones so the telephone was not responding. For four days I repeatedly called home. During the stressful situation I had an idea, that such a situation must be prevented from recurring. One day I recalled how when I was a child I would sometimes stay overnight with my uncle when he would go out on business. His dog would tell me exactly when he was expected to arrive. The dog would go mad. Those days, several articles on epilepsy were published, it was in 1999. It became clear to me that dogs could detect a patient suffering from hypo. Those days there was a pet shop near my office, through them I contacted Bakeman. I shared my thoughts with him and he said it was entirely possible. He was the first to believe in it. The others thought I was crazy.”
Dr. Laster continued, “Bakeman selected a two month old female puppy and we noticed that she peed continuously and this had turned from a physical need to a nuisance. She would do it both at times when sugar levels were normal and when my wife h ad 100 sugar. The bitch would give warning over and over again. She simply knew it was coming. About an hour later Gale went into hypo and this discovery fascinated and amazed me.”
Dr. Anavi-Gofer: “the nice thing here is that the bitch turned in the direction of the specific person about to go into hypo, unlike others.”
Dr. Laster: “moreover, my mother is also diabetic, but there was no connection between my mother and the bitch, so the bitch would not give warning about her blood sugar. She also had a hierarchic order of warning. She first approached my wife, then she would come to me and only after that would she go to our daughters.”
Bakeman: “That is what we call the ‘pack order’. In some cases the bitch is lazy so we give her corrections. We reconstruct things in order to cause it to understand warning is their job. We don’t want them to warn sporadically.”
Dr. Anavi-Gofer: “mistaken identification can occur since biological systems are involved. As of now, the rate of false alarms has been only one percent.”
Prof. Zangen: “this may definitely provide the foundation to a breakthrough in comprehending the brain, since if the findings are founded on large numbers and controlled experiments – this is a phenomenon that cannot be explained using existing norms and neuro-biological mechanisms presently known to us.”
Dr. Anavi-Gofer: “it cannot be discovered using present day sensors and detectors and the mechanisms must be analyzed using a proper study. This study may perhaps require development of sensors that are much more sensitive than the ones we now have and that is a question of budget and recruitment of scientists able to deal with such a project.”
What is the required budget?
“NIS fifteen million for a two-year study.”
Prof. Zangen: “with founded findings it should not be a problem. We already have a schedule, we know exactly what to obtain in order to do it as quickly as possible.”
Dr. Anavi-Gofer: “The mechanism is going in the same direction as developments now used for people. For example, a helmet that detects brain waves and is able to transmit a bank account number, phone number and so on.”
Prof. Zangen: “I am averse to that.”
Dr. Anavi-Gofer: “do you remember the science fiction movie The Enterprise when we were children? Funnily enough, communication between species sounded so distant to us then. Now, generations later, it seems we are approaching this place.”
Bakeman: “That is the communication of the future.”
Dr. Anavi-Gofer: “in the near future there will be a new product based on recording of individual brain waves and transmitting them as a means of communication. It will replace e-mail, text messages and written letters.”
Bakeman walking the dogs
Bakeman: “and just as there is a bank for fingerprints now, there will be a bank for brain prints.”
Don’t you think this exposure is a bit daunting?
Dr. Anavi-Gofer: “indeed, the ethical aspect will definitely be problematic. How can I block some else’s thoughts so he will not be able to read my mind despite the device.”
Prof. Zangen: “the moment we learn to decipher the code, it is not improbably that we will also be able to transmit it, and also receive it in another brain. We will definitely not be able to break it in the next 50 years.”
Dr. Anavi-Gofer disagrees, and gives Zangen an example we all are familiar with: “think of the invention of Bell’s cumbersome telephone in 1876 until the cellular phone was invented – how long did it take us to develop the technology? We now have much better capabilities, better speed. True, it will take time to discover the technology, but I have no doubt there will be a breakthrough over the next 10 years.” Prof. Zangen said, “Dogs’ transmissions relating to blood sugar are simpler than mind reading. It may definitely be deciphered over the next decade.”
Returning to the potential threat deriving from the ability to read minds, Dr. Laster says, “any technology may be used for better or worse. Look at the case her. The bitch has her sensors that operate 24/7, like the human body that constantly checks, identifies and deciphers changes including temperatures. Just like us humans that feel happy or alienated when we enter a crowd. Perhaps the dog’s energies connect with the value of the energies we emit.”
“Dogs’ extraordinary sensory capability usually is more efficient than humans,” says Prof. Vladimir Gunther in a telephone interview from San Diego University. “The use of dogs as a biological sensor is well-known around the world. I am more interested in the fact that many studies found cases in which dogs gave notice of things although the patients were not nearby. Dogs’ normal capabilities cannot explain the existence of these warnings. That is direct brain-to-brain communication.”
Prof. Laster believes this capability may be based on “quantum communication”.
“That is an interesting and creative scientific field that has already been applied in the modern technological information world. It could provide an opportunity to detect the connection between transmission of quantum states and direct brain-to-brain communication.”
He added that he believes, “us humans have the same capabilities dog have, only our antennas were chopped off when we were young. I believe it is all a question of locating the appropriate antenna to receive these waves that are continuously in the air.”
Identifying the enemy
Prof. Avi Avital, behavior and brain scientist in the Technion medical school and Haemek Hospital, provides an interesting viewopoint about the study of dogs trained to identify and “enemy”. “Dempsey, the US military chief of staff, was quoted in an interview for the New York Times saying the next weapons intelligence entities have to develop and distribute using various technological means is the ability to identify the enemy’s intentions before he develops the means”, he said. “I believe it is some sort of wish to try to understand the black box because that is the situation in which we are currently living, not only in Israel, but globally. There are things that intelligence entities in the world are unable to handle.”
What are the difference in approach when examining the dog’s mind compared to the human mind in order to study communication between them?
“Our mind is different as well as similar from certain aspects on a technological level. A human may be examined in a state of awakening, using electrodes or scans such as MRI or CT. With dogs, on the other hand, our ability to control lack of motion during metering is extremely limited. It has to be put under sedation, and that is already a catch that requires creativity.”
And then she gives
“In extreme cases she may do her business or vomit. The good thing is that she never barks. She turns her eyes in the direction, signaling the danger zone.”
How does she perceive danger, does she smell it?
“No way it could be smell, since scent molecules are not carried for distances of several kilometers or even further, and what scent can we expect from someone smuggling a knife or holding a false identity card?”
Don’t you need some type of rosette stone in order to comprehend the language of the canine and human brains when they communicate?
“No. I think the moment you let the dog gain control – it does this perfectly. It is trained to do this.”
These very days a clandestine battle is taking place over the study versus with the Americans. Bakeman relates to that, saying: “there are negotiations with the Americans over the financing of the project, but they are also trying to take a bite out of it. I believe control must remain in Israeli hands and that is of utmost importance. Therefore, I am trying to persuade the government of Israel to finance the study.”