Scientists control mouse neurons so the rodents "see" things that aren't there

Scientists have used laser light to activate neurons in a mouse's brain so the rodents "sees" non-existent lines. The technique, called optogenetics, switches on and off neurons that have been previously genetically engineered to be light-sensitive. According to Science News, "the results, described online July 18 in Science, represent the first time scientists have created a specific visual perception with laboratory trickery." In this case, the mice had been trained to drink water from a spout upon seeing the lines. From Science News:

When optogenetics first debuted about 15 years ago, everyone was hoping to achieve this level of precise control over perception, and the behaviors that follow, says Karl Deisseroth, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who pioneered the technique. “It’s exciting to get to this point,” says Deisseroth, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Stanford University....

Similar approaches could let scientists create other sorts of perceptions, such as smells, touches and tastes, Deisseroth says.

Previously: "Scientists remote control a mouse with a wireless LED brain implant"