“Sirius, you even scratch like a dog.” “What are you talking about Prongs?” “You just did it again! Anyone would think you were a regular old wolfhound.” “Hey Jamesie, be a deer and shut up.” “I see what you did there.”
This gif shows two sets of living neurons, the cells that make up the brain, spinal cord and nervous system. They were recorded using a method that makes them glow when they are working and doing their neuron thing.
The ones on the left are your regular, old-fashioned neurons occasionally receiving, processing and sending information through electrical and chemical signals. The ones on the right were first augmented to produce heat-sensitive proteins by inserting genes into their DNA. Then researchers injected the re-engineered neurons with nanoscopically small magnetic particles of iron oxide. Finally, someone turned on a magnet.
MIT scientists who did the work found that they could remotely stimulate brain tissue by exciting the nanoparticles through magnetic fields. The energy causes the iron oxide to rapidly heat, which activates the neuron by triggering the engineered heat-sensitive proteins within the cell, the team says.