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wireless control

A sensor in the brain

A nanoprobe thinner than a strand of hair, able to give off light and chemicals, has enabled researchers in the United States to control the behavior of mice through wireless commands issued through a computer (Cell, July 16, 2015).  In their study, the researchers induced the mice to move to one side of a cage by shining beams of light on the neurons in a specific region of their brains.  Then, they used chemicals to interrupt communications between neurons.  The animals started moving in circles.  The commands were transmitted by an antenna positioned about one meter away from the cages.  The nanoprobe was built with lightweight materials and, according to the researchers from the University of Illinois and University of Washington who were responsible for the work, it was implanted in the brains of the animals without causing them any damage.

The sensor was composed of microchips containing semiconductors that stored several types of drugs, in addition to light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  A reservoir held the necessary drugs and an expandable material.  When the temperature of an electric heater below the reservoir went up, the material expanded and released the drugs, which led the mice to act in a certain manner.