Projectors have been put to a variety of unusual uses over the years, but some scientists in the US have managed to use them as instruments of mind control!

The researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have used ordinary liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors to engage with elements in the minds of worms, and use different colours to control their movements.

The worm are not your common-or-garden variety, however, and have been genetically modified to have light-sensitive microbial proteins in their brains. These proteins respond differently to the three primary colours of light - red, blue and green - and the scientists have found that by projecting different colours onto their worms allow them to turn certain muscles on and off.

Lead researcher, Hang Lu, said the development would allow them to enhance their ability to control, alter, observe and investigate how neurons, muscles and circuits produce behaviour in animals.

"Because the central component of the illumination system is a commercially available projector, the system's cost and complexity are dramatically reduced, which we hope will enable wider adoption of this tool by the research community," he explained.

When the animal moves, changes to the light's location, intensity and colour can be updated in less than 40 milliseconds.