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, 8 (1), 26-9




Karl Deisseroth. Nat Methods.


Optogenetics is a technology that allows targeted, fast control of precisely defined events in biological systems as complex as freely moving mammals. By delivering optical control at the speed (millisecond-scale) and with the precision (cell type–specific) required for biological processing, optogenetic approaches have opened new landscapes for the study of biology, both in health and disease.

Conflict of interest statement


The author declares no competing financial interests.


Figure 1 |
Figure 1 |
Graphical illustration of ‘optogenetics’ emerging in the scientific literature. Demonstration of single-component optogenetic control of neurons with microbial opsins was followed by corresponding optogenetic terminology in October 2006, and corresponding optogenetic control of freely moving mammals using microbial opsins and the fiberoptic neural interface,. Also marked are identifications of bacteriorhodopsin, halorhodopsin and channelrhodopsin, all of which were much later (2005–2010) shown to function as fast, single-component optogenetic tools in neurons. Numbers indicate only publications searchable by ‘optogenetics’ or derivatives thereof on 1 December 2010.
Figure 2 |
Figure 2 |
Principle of optogenetics in neuroscience. Targeted excitation (as with a blue light–activated channelrhodopsin) or inhibition (as with a yellow light–activated halorhodopsin), conferring cellular specificity and even projection specificity not feasible with electrodes while maintaining high temporal (action-potential scale) precision.

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