Optical induction of synaptic plasticity using a light-sensitive channel

Nat Methods. 2007 Feb;4(2):139-41. doi: 10.1038/nmeth988. Epub 2006 Dec 31.


We have combined millisecond activation of channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), a light-gated ion channel, with two-photon calcium imaging to investigate active synaptic contacts in rat hippocampal slice cultures. Calcium influx was larger during light-induced action potentials than during action potentials induced by somatic current injection, leading to highly reproducible synaptic transmission. Pairing of light stimulation with postsynaptic depolarization induced long-term potentiation, making this technique ideal for genetic and pharmacological dissection of synaptic plasticity.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Neurological*
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Light
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Pyramidal Cells
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sensory Rhodopsins / genetics
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Transfection


  • Sensory Rhodopsins
  • Calcium