Neuroengineers at Rice University have found a way to control the minds of flies. More scientifically, the researchers can remotely access certain brain circuits in fruit flies with wireless technology. And they can do it in almost the blink of an eye. The process began by genetically engineering specific neurons of fruit flies so they would express a heat-sensitive ion channel. Next, the neuroengineers injected magnetic nanoparticles, which they heated with a magnetic field in order to make the flies partially spread their wings. Experiments showed flies responding to the change in the magnetic fields in about half a second. Jacob Robinson, study author and associate professor at Rice, said this development could assist in studying the brain and treating neurological disorders in a precise and minimally invasive manner. Robinson is also the principal investigator on MOANA, or magnetic, optical, and acoustic neural access. His team has been working on a headset technology that could decode neural activity in someone’s visual cortex and encode it in another person’s brain. The team’s goal with this tech is to reinstate partial vision for people who are blind. They essentially intend to skip the eyes by stimulating the areas of the brain related to vision. However, Robinson said to mimic the natural precision of the brain, the team would need to reduce the response time to about a few hundredths of a second.
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Advanced Manufacturing International (AMI) has been awarded a $2M grant