US scientists have found a way to control flies remotely by rewiring their brains. The long-term goal of this research is to create methods for non-invasively activating particular human brain regions for medical purposes.
According to a press release, a research team composed of specialists from some of the top institutions in the United States has discovered a wireless method that facilitates the control of neurons in a fly’s brain in less than a second.
As a result of advancements in our understanding of how the brain functions, scientists are looking into ways to leverage this functionality to perform activities that have never been done before in human history.
For instance, according to Interesting Engineering, a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aims to develop headgear technology that can read and write neural activity for a different person.
All About MOANA
The Magnetic, Optical, Acoustic Neural Access (MOANA) initiative seeks to develop a wireless headset that can facilitate brain-to-brain communication without the need for surgery.
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Jacob Robinson, an associate professor at Rice University, and his team are among the researchers working on the project. They developed a wireless hacking method for fly brains.
The research team created a unique ion channel that is activated by heat in the brain cells of flies through genetic engineering. The flies spread their wings just like an ion channel might whenever it opens in a mating gesture.
When the scientists activated the electromagnet, the flies spread their wings because the electric field heated the nanoparticles, which then set off the neurons.
Additionally, the scientists found that, as shown in the experiment footage, there was a very brief lag between the electromagnet activation and the expansion of wings.
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By bringing together experts in genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and electrical engineering, the team was able to put everything together and show that this notion functions, according to Robinson in the press release.
Robinson claims that the ability to accurately activate cells will be helpful for comprehending the brain, developing technologies for brain communication, and treating issues relating to the brain.
What Does This Technology Mean For The Future?
The team is focused on developing technology that could help patients recover their vision even if their eyes are no longer functional. They intend to accomplish this by activating the brain’s visual-related areas, which will give users a sense of seeing even when their eyes are not functioning.
To match the brain’s intrinsic accuracy, the response time must be slashed to a few hundredths of a second. So, according to Robinson, there’s still a long journey to go.
The long-term goal of this research is to create methods for non-invasively activating particular human brain regions for medical purposes.
Researchers from Duke University and Brown University collaborated on this study, which was then published in the journal Nature Materials.