Monday 03 March 2014
Using the whimsically named Fly Mind-Altering Device (also known as FlyMAD), researchers were able to trigger complex courtship behaviour in a target fly, essentially causing the insect to ‘fall in love’ with a ball of wax.
The research, led by Barry Dickson of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, is similar to optogenetics; a method that activates neurons using light and that has previously been used to control behaviour in mice.
However, while optogenetics require fibre-optic cables to be embedded into mice skulls to activate the genetically-altered neurons, thermogenetics achieves the same effect by using infrared lasers to deliver the ‘instructions’ directly to the fly’s…
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