A new technique allows researchers to both observe and control brain activity in mice. Just like a very complicated computer, our brains control our thoughts and behaviours via electrical bursts of activity. Essentially, that means we should be able to both understand and control how it works, but our brains are coded in a language we don’t understand just yet.
Now, however, researchers from University College London in the UK have developed a new method that has allowed them to both read and write brain signals in mice using flashes of light.
The development takes us a step closer to better understanding how the brain works, and potentially how to program it. Their method involved genetically encoding activity sensors that allow nerve cells to visibly light up when they’re active. The neuroscientists also genetically engineered these same nerve cells to express light-sensitive proteins, which means that they could be activated with flashes of light.
The technique has now been described in Nature Methods, and they’re hoping it will allow us to finally learn more about the “language” our brain uses to process information. Via Neuroscientists have worked out how to “read” and “write” brain signals