DEC 01, 2021 9:36 AM PST

Researchers Use the Internet to Control Animal Brains Remotely

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers can remotely control the brain circuits of multiple animals at the same time using the internet. The corresponding study was published in Nature by researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Colorado Boulder. 

“One of the biggest limitations when trying to understand how the mammalian brain works is that we have to study these functions in unnatural conditions,” said Professor Jordan Mcall, senior author of the study, “This technology brings us one step closer to performing important studies without direct human interaction with the study subjects.” 

The new approach is based upon wireless implantable Internet of Things (IoT) devices that communicate neural activity between implantees and IoT control modules which could be anywhere in the world. Already, the researchers have demonstrated its efficacy in recording data from, and stimulating neural activity among, rodents in terms of locomotion, feeding, arousal, and social behavior. 

“As long as researchers have internet access, they are able to trigger, customize, stop, validate, and store the outcomes of large experiments at any time and from anywhere in the world. They can remotely perform large-scale neuroscience experiments in animals deployed in multiple countries,” said, Dr. Raza Qazi, one of the lead authors of the paper, “The low cost of this system allows it to be easily adopted and can further fuel innovation across many laboratories.”

The researchers say that in particular, their IoT nanotechnology could be easily adapted by neuroscientists around the world due to its minimalistic hardware, low setup cost, ease of use, and customizable versatility. They say that the technology could also reduce the number of animals used in biomedical research as it reduces ‘the variability introduced by various experimenters', and that the technology may enable new opportunities for brain research, pharmaceuticals, and telemedicine to treat diseases remotely. 

 

Sources: EurekAlertNature

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
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