Bidirectional Optogenetic Control of Inhibitory Neurons in Freely-Moving Mice

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2021 Feb;68(2):416-427. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2020.3001242. Epub 2021 Jan 20.


Objective: Optogenetic manipulations of excitable cells enable activating or silencing specific types of neurons. By expressing two types of exogenous proteins, a single neuron can be depolarized using light of one wavelength and hyperpolarized with another. However, routing two distinct wavelengths into the same brain locality typically requires bulky optics that cannot be implanted on the head of a freely-moving animal.

Methods: We developed a lens-free approach for constructing dual-color head-mounted, fiber-based optical units: any two wavelengths can be combined.

Results: Here, each unit was comprised of one 450 nm and one 638 nm laser diode, yielding light power of 0.4 mW and 8 mW at the end of a 50 micrometer multimode fiber. To create a multi-color/multi-site optoelectronic device, a four-shank silicon probe mounted on a microdrive was equipped with two dual-color and two single-color units, for a total weight under 3 g. Devices were implanted in mice expressing the blue-light sensitive cation channel ChR2 and the red-light sensitive chloride pump Jaws in parvalbumin-immunoreactive (PV) inhibitory neurons. The combination of dual-color units with recording electrodes was free from electromagnetic interference, and device heating was under 7°C even after prolonged operation.

Conclusion: Using these devices, the same cortical PV cell could be activated and silenced. This was achieved for multiple cells both in neocortex and hippocampus of freely-moving mice.

Significance: This technology can be used for controlling spatially intermingled neurons that have distinct genetic profiles, and for controlling spike timing of cortical neurons during cognitive tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain
  • Hippocampus
  • Light
  • Mice
  • Neurons*
  • Optogenetics*