By: Andrew Huhn, 3rd year PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Program
Optogenetics is one of the most significant advances in neuroscience in the last decade. The very concept of optogenetics appears to come straight from a science fiction novel: we can control the brain with a laser! Okay, so that’s a bit of an overstatement, but not by much.
Optogenetics allows scientists to selectively excite or inhibit discrete areas of an animal brain using a beam of light. Moreover, scientists can control a single type of neuron within that region, providing fine-tuned control that was unachievable with earlier methods. But how exactly is this accomplished? And what implications does this have on biomedical research?