Researchers at Harvard University's
Center For Brain Science have successful manipulated nematode C. elegans worms by genetically modifying a select few of their 302 neurons. Not to be confused with magnetically controlled invertebrate
, these creepy-crawlies are controlled by the CoLBeRT system (a nod to the comedian
but no other relation), controlling locomotion and behavior in real time. The scientists can manipulate movement of the worms, induce paralysis, and even cause them to lay eggs all by shining a laser that turns on and off the modified cells at will. The laser hits the worm and causes it to react as if it were being touched. According to the researchers, the reaction is similar to when light is shined in a human eye -- the protein found in the worm and eyes are sensitive to different variations of rays and will respond based on the color shined. Peep past the break for some squiggly mind- er, light-controlled action.