You would be surprised by how often we get calls from people thinking that there is someone in their life – their boss, their neighbor, an ex lover – using audio-visual stimulation (AVS) on them with less than kind intentions. For most of them it is a confusion between AVS and “mind control”, which is really not how brainwaves work. One person was convinced that her boss was using the intercom to control her mind. Another was determined to bring down a nearby factory that was emitting mind-controlling sound waves to half the town. Of course, the best we can do in these cases is explain more about AVS and subtly recommend that the caller seek counsel.
However, there ARE non-therapeutic uses for audio or visual stimulation.
Recently there was some news about a nausea-inducing flash light being developed for the Department of Homeland Security, called the “LED Incapacitator”. The device uses pulses of light that are constantly changing in duration, color and brightness level. The disorienting effect this produces causes nausea and vomiting.
“There’s one wavelength that gets everybody,” says IOS President Bob Lieberman. “Vlad [IOS top scientist Vladimir Rubtsov] calls it ‘the evil color.'”
Sound can also be used to produce similar effects. In 2005, a cruise ship warded off pirates off the coast of Africa using a sonic weapon called the LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device, which sends high energy beams of acoustic wrath down upon its target.
In 2006, a device called the “Mosquito” was used to disperse a group of rowdy youngsters from gathering near a theater in Swindon, England. The device emits extremely annoying high frequency sound that is usually audible only to people under the age of 25 (younger people typically have higher thresholds for hearing). This is an effective-sounding concept for crowd control, but I have also read about it being used by grumpy old men who don’t want those pesky youngsters stomping on their lawn or skating on the sidewalk, causing younger neighbors nearby to have to endure this acoustic deterrent on a constant basis.
Take a listen to what the Mosquito sounds like here. Can you hear it?
Supposedly, there is even a frequency of tone or pulse that can cause diarrhea (or something very similar), amusingly dubbed the “brown note“. However, it is most likely a myth. The idea was explored on MythBusters a few years ago, and they could not find a way to reproduce the effect.