It may sound scary but yes, scientists have developed a transmitter that can control the behavior and actions of mice and soon, might be applicable to people. This body-powered wireless transmitter was developed by scientists from Stanford and they believe that this device could change the lives of people with certain health issues like Parkinson's disease.
This microscopic light-emitting diode device can control the activity of the nerve cells and has given the scientists wireless control over animal behavior, reports Technology Review. They have tested the LED device in mice and found out that it causes less damage than other methods that were used to deliver light to the brain. The study was published in the journal Science on Thursday.
This technology is termed as optogenetics. Optogenetics is the combination of genetics and optics to control well-defined events within specific cells of the body. In short, they use light to control some parts of the body.
Since the LED device is installed in as a headgear, there were some challenges that emerged during the study. The mice found it hard to go through narrow spaces and they can't sleep well. Ada Poon, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, told Sentinel Republic, "The decvice's development is good for research overall because other researchers can use it - the design of the power source is publicly available and the device is easily customized."
After weeks of analysis and presence of the LED device in the brain, it resulted to lesser lesions and neurons dying. Furthermore, after half a year in the brain, the death of nerves was fewer and the device still worked.
"The ability to integrate sensors as well as LEDs could enable 'closed-loop' control of brain functions, which could be of use for applications in which information must be both observed and read," says MIT's Ed Boyden, one of the co-inventors of optogenetics.
In the long run and after many more tests, the device could show promise in future treatments for brain diseases.