Non-contact long-range magnetic stimulation of mechanosensitive ion channels in freely moving animals

Journal: Nature Materials

Published: 2021-01-28

DOI: 10.1038/s41563-020-00896-y

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 8

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Research Highlight

Magnetic manipulation of neurons in freely moving mice

© GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Stockbyte/Getty Images

© GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Specific neurons in the brains of freely moving mice can be turned off and on by remotely applying a tiny magnetic field.

Great strides have been made in our understanding of what specific neural circuits do thanks to the ability to turn neurons on and off using laser light. But brain tissue scatters light, making it necessary to implant an optical fibre, which restricts the movement of animals.

Now, eight researchers, all at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea, have developed a system that uses a magnetic field to turn neurons on and off in freely moving mice that are up to 70 centimetres away.

Their system uses octahedra-coated nanoparticles, which rotate when a magnetic field is applied, opening up an ion channel and thereby stimulating a neuron.

The system’s ability to be used on freely moving animals makes it attractive for behavioural studies in small animals, including primates.

Supported content

  1. Nature Materials 20, 1029–1036 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41563-020-00896-y
Institutions Share
Division of Interdisciplinary, IBS, South Korea 0.67
Yonsei University, South Korea 0.33