Tuesday April 12, 1:52 AM
Scientists Create Remote-Controlled Flies
Yale University researchers say their study that used lasers to create remote-controlled fruit flies could lead to a better understanding of overeating and violence in humans.
Using the lasers to stimulate specific brain cells, researchers say they were able to make the flies jump, walk, flap their wings and fly.
Even headless flies took flight when researchers stimulated the correct neurons, according to the study, published in the April 7 issue of the journal Cell.
Scientists say the study could ultimately help identify the cells associated with psychiatric disorders, overeating and aggressiveness.
Biologists have long known that an electrical stimulus can trigger muscle response, but this approach used focused beams of light to stimulate neurons that would have been impossible to study using electrodes.
Gero Miesenbock, associate professor of cell biology at Yale, said if the process could be duplicated on mice, researchers might be able to better understand the cellular activity that leads to certain behavior.
"Ultimately, that could be important to understanding human psychiatric disorders," Miesenbock said. "That's really futuristic stuff."