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Wireless deep brain stimulation of well-defined neuronal populations could facilitate the study of intact brain circuits and the treatment of neurological disorders. Here we demonstrate minimally-invasive and remote neural excitation through the activation of the heat-sensitive capsaicin receptor TRPV1 by magnetic nanoparticles. When exposed to alternating magnetic fields, the nanoparticles dissipate heat generated by hysteresis, triggering widespread and reversible firing of TRPV1+ neurons. Wireless magnetothermal stimulation in the ventral tegmental area of mice evoked excitation in subpopulations of neurons in the targeted brain region and in structures receiving excitatory projections. The nanoparticles persisted in the brain for over a month, allowing for chronic stimulation without the need for implants and connectors.