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Scientists have been able to take control of flies' brains to make females behave just like males.
Researchers genetically modified the insects so that a group of brain cells that control sexual behaviour could be "switched on" by a pulse of light.
The team was able to get female fruit flies to produce a courtship song - behaviour usually only seen in males.
The study, published in the journal Cell, suggests that the wiring in male and female flies' brains is similar.
What would happen if we turned the neurons on in females
Gero Miesenboeck, from Oxford University, UK, who carried out the research with J. Dylan Clyne from Yale University, US, said: "It is often the case that males have to work very hard to convince females to mate with them.
"In many animal species, males have to put on elaborate courtship displays to impress females - even the tiny fruit fly."
Male fruit flies will vibrate one of their wings to produce a barely audible song, explained Professor Miesenboeck.
"And if the female likes that sound, she'll surrender to his advances."
Previous research has revealed that a group of 2,000 brain cells are necessary for this courtship behaviour in the insects; however, both male and female fruit flies appear to possess most of these neurons.
Professor Miesenboeck said: "It looks like males and females have very similar neuronal equipment, yet they behave so differently - only the male sings, and only the female responds to the song by allowing a male to copulate with her.
"The big question is: why - what is the difference?"
To investigate, the team placed some flies in a "mini sound studio".
The insects had been genetically modified so that a pulse of light would activate this group of courtship neurons.