LED device uses wireless tech, algae gene to manipulate mouse brains' neurons

[USA] Scientists have developed a lightweight light-emitting diode (LED) device that wirelessly stimulates nerves in mouse brains, in order to map its functions. They used a peppercorn-size glowing implant weighing 20 to 50 milligrams to activate neurons in the rodents’ CPUs, spinal cord, or limbs; and green algae to make the brains responsive to the LED.

The lightweight device was developed by a Stanford University Bio X team. It is powered by the mouse’s energy-transferring body, and is the first device to transmit nerve stimulation in an implant. In the past, the mice were powered up by different means. They were either connected to a fiber optic cable or geared up with bulky charging devices, according to Engadget.

Scientists explained that optogenetics (optics-genetics) can teach humans much information. They will next evaluate how more complex and subtle processes such as depression and anxiety happen.

Using ultrathin LEDs that are inserted into the brains of mice and rats, scientists and the Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Illinois have been able to remotely control the minds of their subject animals.

Scientists will have to conduct more complicated experiments. The mice will run through mazes that will be more difficult than when the little animal is attached to a leash. Light can alter various brain functions.

Through optogenetics scientists used green algae genes to alter neurons’ genetics, according to The Monitor Daily.

By changing certain brain components experts can observe how the selected areas impact behavior. Thus, when they place the mouse in an electromagnetic box, the implant coil collects radiofrequency (RF) energy to power light. That activates the targeted brain area.

Researchers tested their system on brain neurons and also spinal cord nerves. The mouse stopped walking in circles when the power was switched off, showing that the system is operating.

Scientists will next conduct experiments to learn more about various neurological conditions. They include blindness and Parkinson’s disease. Here is raw footage of the scientists’ experiments:


Photo: Mouse with LED implant (Photo : BoingBoing.net)

View original article at: LED Device Uses Wireless Tech, Algae To Charge Mouse Brains’ Neurons

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