14 December 2016

Radio-controlled mice

Scientists have learned to control the behavior of animals using light and wireless radio technologies

DailyTechInfo based on Popular Science: Scientists can now control mice with radio waves and light

The mouse, which can be seen in the video below, was absolutely not going to start running in a circle. The animal moved in a completely ordinary "mouse" way until a special optical "switch" clicked in her brain, after which running in a circle became her only goal in life. This miracle switch was a symbiosis of a surgically implanted electron-optical device and neurons of nerve tissues, which acquired the functions of sensitivity to light through their modifications at the gene level.

The aforementioned electro-optical device is controlled and supplied with energy using wireless technologies operating in the radio frequency range, and the developer of the device is a group of scientists from Stanford University, headed by Professor Ada Poon.

It should be noted that this experiment is far from the first attempt by scientists to implement technologies of so-called optogenetics, which make it possible to realize the excitation by light of neurons subjected to a gene modification procedure. But everything that we had seen before was realized with the help of fairly large electronic devices and batteries, which the animals were forced to carry on their backs, or optical cables sticking out of the animals' heads in the most eerie way, which greatly limited their mobility.

As mentioned above, a tiny device was implanted in the head of each of the experimental animals. In addition to the LED, this device includes an oscillating circuit tuned to a certain frequency. The radio frequency oscillator installed below the experimental "cage" can be configured to generate one or more frequencies simultaneously, which made it possible to control the behavior of one individual animal or a group of animals simultaneously.

The key point of the optogenetics technology used by scientists was the genetic material isolated from one of the species of protozoan algae that are able to move in the direction of the light source. These algae have molecules of a special light-sensitive protein on the surface of their cell membrane. When light falls on these molecules, an ion channel opens in the cell membrane, which leads to changes in the electrical potential inside the cell. And this, in turn, causes the simplest organism of algae to begin to move its two flagella and move towards the light. Since 2005, several research groups have been able to isolate a light–sensitive protein, identify areas of the genetic code responsible for the synthesis of this protein, embed this code in the DNA of neurons and thus give rise to a new field of science - optogenetics.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  14.12.2016

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