Magneto remotely controls brain and behaviour

The toroidal magnetic chamber (Tokamak) of the Joint European Torus (JET) at the Culham Science Centre. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images Researchers in the United States have developed a new method for controlling the brain circuits associated with complex animal behaviours, using genetic engineering to create a magnetized protein that activates specific groups of nerve cells from a distance. Understanding how the brain generates behaviour is one of the ultimate goals of neuroscience – and one of its most difficult questions. In recent years, researchers have developed a number of methods that enable them to remotely control specified groups of neurons and to probe the workings of neuronal circuits. The most powerful of these is a method called optogenetics, which enables researchers to switch populations of related neurons on or off on…


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