Advances in optical manipulation and observation of neural activity have set the stage for widespread implementation of closed-loop and activity-guided optical control of neural circuit dynamics. Closing the loop optogenetically (i.e., basing optogenetic stimulation on simultaneously observed dynamics in a principled way) is a powerful strategy for causal investigation of neural circuitry. In particular, observing and feeding back the effects of circuit interventions on physiologically relevant timescales is valuable for directly testing whether inferred models of dynamics, connectivity, and causation are accurate in vivo. Here we highlight technical and theoretical foundations as well as recent advances and opportunities in this area, and we review in detail the known caveats and limitations of optogenetic experimentation in the context of addressing these challenges with closed-loop optogenetic control in behaving animals.
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