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Scientists controlled the neural behaviors of rodents using light

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Key Highlights:

  • The entire experiment relied on the concept of Optogenetics and Optogenetic devices
  • The experiment supported previous researches and studies on synchronized minds being more cooperative
  • The experiment on rodents can be used to gain insights into their functioning in humans

Probe social behaviour of animals using light

In a recent seemingly scientific breakthrough, scientists claimed to control the social behavior of rodents using headphones and backpacks in mice. The latest study showed that scientists were able to probe the social behavior of the animal using lights to turn on and off its nerve cells with the assistance of headphones and backpacks.

The Remote Control Experiment

Previously on May 10, a study conducted by online researchers suggesting how synchronized minds are more cooperative was published in Nature Neuroscience. With respect to the conclusion(s) drawn in the previous study, new insights into the neural circuits responsible for social interactions were identified through the remote-control experiment.

Scientists were able to monitor and regulate the behavior of the rodents with the help of headphones and backpacks on mice. Furthermore, they were able to turn on and turn off the rodents’ nerve cells using light units.

These newly developed devices relied on Optogenetics. Optogenetics is a technique in which light bursts are used by researchers to activate or suppress nerve cells in the brain or neurons, often using adapted viruses to genetically modify cells to respond to illumination. The same concept of Optogenetics was used by the scientists to gain a thorough insight into the neural circuits of mice and other laboratory animals to gather information on how they might function in humans.

The completely implantable optogenetics experiments for rodents open the door to more extensive researches. According to Genia Kozorovitskiy, a neurobiologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, researchers can control the programming of each device during the course of the experiment so that it can address what an animal does in a much more complex way.

The Optogenetic devices are head and rear-mounted and are battery-free. They can be wirelessly powered by the same high-frequency radio waves used to remotely control the intensity, duration, and timing of light pulses. Scientists can also control four different neural circuits simultaneously in one animal using prototypes and LEDs emitting four light colors (blue, green, yellow, and red) instead of one.

During experiments with mice, Kozorovitskiy and colleagues used the devices to target the prefrontal cortex of the brain that concerns decisiveness and other complex behaviors. When similar patterns of neuronal stimulation in the prefrontal cortex were delivered to pairs or trios of mice, rodents prepared and sniffed mates with whom their neurons were synchronized more frequently than those out of sync. “The experiment paved the way in support of previous research suggesting that this type of synchrony between minds may increase social behavior, especially cooperative interactions,” added Kozorovitskiy.

Optogenetics

Optogenetics refers to a biological technique that involves the usage of light to control neurons that have genetically engineered to express light-sensitive ion channels. Optogenetics devices provide light to the neurons through fiber optic cables. However, these junctions have the potential to interfere with natural behaviors and social interactions. Although scientists have recently developed implantable wireless optogenetic devices, these optogenetic devices relatively rely on simple remote controls and limited sets of preprogrammed instructions.

Also Read:- Interesting Facts About 7 Most Dangerous Viruses In The World

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