Optogenetics: turning the lights on in your head

Optogonetics is among the most widely employed techniques to manipulate neuronal activity. It uses a combination of light and genetic engineering to control the cells of the brain, resulting in behavioural manipulation.

In essence, a behaviour can be “turned on or off” using a light stimulus. The therapeutic implications of this technique are monumental. However, its most notable limitation is that it involves invasive methodology requiring subjects to be connected to wire leads while their behaviours are “optegenetically” altered.

Dr. Diego Mendoza-Halliday is a researcher at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T who has engineered a molecule called SOUL that allows for manipulation of behaviours using light stimuli from outside the brain. This a portable and much less invasive version compared to the old optogenetics method.

His research is getting us much closer to human applications. Dr. Mendoza-Halliday will be joining us for an informal video conference presentation to talk about his research and its implications on Friday, April 24th at 3 p.m. (The zoom waiting room will be enabled as of 2:45PM).

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Last Modified: April 24, 2020