Now, flies can be remote-controlled!

The genetically engineered fruit flies can be made to jump and beat their wings with pulses of laser light.

| Updated on: Apr 09 2005, 15:32 IST

Scientists have genetically engineered remote-controlled fruit flies that can be made to jump and beat their wings with pulses of laser light.

Light-sensitive triggers in the flies' brains and nervous systems allow the insects' actions to be directed by shining a laser beam at them, reports reputed science portal Eurekalert.

The breakthrough by scientists from Yale University's School of Medicine opens up new avenues for analysing neural circuits without using brain implants and could ultimately lead to new ways of restoring body functions lost through injury and disease, say researchers.

But the idea of manipulating behaviour with a laser also raises the frightening prospect of sci-fi style 'mind control' becoming a potential reality.

In some of the experiments, light controls were used to activate dopamine neurons that stimulated walking and affected the types of paths the flies chose to follow. Loss of dopamine cell activity in humans underlies Parkinson's disease.

Changing conditions of the light pulses altered the activity level of flies and the direction of their flight.

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First Published Date: 09 Apr, 11:42 IST