The effort, led by physics professor Arnd Pralle, PhD, of the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, focused on a technique called “magneto-thermal stimulation.” It’s not exactly a simple process — it requires the implantation of specially built DNA strands and nanoparticles which attach to specific neurons — but once the minimally invasive procedure is over, the brain can be remotely controlled via an alternating magnetic field. When those magnetic inputs are applied, the particles heat up, causing the neurons to fire.

The study, which was published in the most recent edition of the journal eLife, includes experiments where were performed on mice. Using the new technique, the researchers were able to control the movement of the animals, causing them to freeze, lock up their limbs, turn around, or even run.