Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Exciting nerve cells deep inside the brain

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Sci. Signal.  31 Mar 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 370, pp. ec80
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aab2105

Current techniques to stimulate regions inside the brain need a permanently implanted wire or an optical fiber. Working in mice, Chen et al. developed a method to overcome this problem (see the Perspective by Temel and Jahanshahi). They introduced heat-sensitive capsaicin receptors into nerve cells and then injected magnetic nanoparticles into specific brain regions. The nanoparticles could be heated by external alternating magnetic fields, which activated the ion channel–expressing neurons. Thus, cellular signaling deep inside the brain can be controlled remotely without permanent implants.

R. Chen, G. Romero, M. G. Christiansen, A. Mohr, P. Anikeeva, Wireless magnetothermal deep brain stimulation. Science 347, 1477–1480 (2015). [Abstract] [Full Text]

Y. Temel, A. Jahanshahi, Treating brain disorders with neuromodulation. Science 347, 1418–1419 (2015). [Abstract] [Full Text]