Brain control without surgery

Scientists from Stanford University, USA, have been able to switch cells ‘on and off’ within the brain of a living animal.

Using optogenetics – a combination of light and genetic engineering to control brain cells – the researchers were able to stop seizures in epileptic mice.

They could also turn on brain cells responsible for producing serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another - to promote social behaviour in mice.

The team is now testing this procedure in fish and collaborating with others to apply it to monkeys.

“This is kind of a nice bookend to 16 years of research,” said Karl Deisseroth, a neuroscientist and bioengineer at Stanford University.

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