Optogenetics Explained! | Neuroscience Methods 101

The video is an excellent 5-minute description. Very much worth the time.

“Using optogenetics neurons in the brain can be activated by shining light on to them. But how does it work? With optogenetics we can target specific neurons in the brain and activate or inhibit them. We are able to do that by shining light on the neuron. However, most neurons typically do not react to light, so we first have to change these brain cells a little bit. Proteins called opsins are sensitive to light and they can activate a cell. In humans we can find opsins, named rhodopsins in the cells of the retina in the eyes. The enables us to see. By placing such rhodopsin proteins in neurons of the brain, we can also make them sensitive to light. For that we specifically use channelrhodopsin (chr2), which is sensitive to blue light. But how do we get channelrhodopsin into a brain cell? For that we change the genetic code of the neuron using viruses (viral vectors). Using the virus we enter the genetic instructions into the cell that allow them to make channelrhodopsin. Once this is done, we can shine blue light on the cell and it will fire.


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Published by markskidmore

Mark Skidmore is Professor of Economics at Michigan State University where he holds the Morris Chair in State and Local Government Finance and Policy. His research focuses on topics in public finance, regional economics, and the economics of natural disasters. Mark created the Lighthouse Economics website and blog to share economic research and information relevant for navigating tumultuous times.

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