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Review
, 7, 3-30

Optogenetic Brain Interfaces

Review

Optogenetic Brain Interfaces

Ramin Pashaie et al. IEEE Rev Biomed Eng.

Abstract

The brain is a large network of interconnected neurons where each cell functions as a nonlinear processing element. Unraveling the mysteries of information processing in the complex networks of the brain requires versatile neurostimulation and imaging techniques. Optogenetics is a new stimulation method which allows the activity of neurons to be modulated by light. For this purpose, the cell-types of interest are genetically targeted to produce light-sensitive proteins. Once these proteins are expressed, neural activity can be controlled by exposing the cells to light of appropriate wavelengths. Optogenetics provides a unique combination of features, including multimodal control over neural function and genetic targeting of specific cell-types. Together, these versatile features combine to a powerful experimental approach, suitable for the study of the circuitry of psychiatric and neurological disorders. The advent of optogenetics was followed by extensive research aimed to produce new lines of light-sensitive proteins and to develop new technologies: for example, to control the distribution of light inside the brain tissue or to combine optogenetics with other modalities including electrophysiology, electrocorticography, nonlinear microscopy, and functional magnetic resonance imaging. In this paper, the authors review some of the recent advances in the field of optogenetics and related technologies and provide their vision for the future of the field.

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