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Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light [Extended Version]

Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light [Extended Version]
Despite the enormous efforts of clinicians and researchers, our limited insight into psychiatric disease (the worldwide-leading cause of years of life lost to death or disability) hinders the search for cures and contributes to stigmatization. Clearly, we need new answers in psychiatry. But as philosopher of science Karl Popper might have said, before we can find the answers, we need the power to ask new questions. In other words, we need new technology. Developing appropriate techniques is difficult, however, because the mammalian brain is beyond compare in its complexity. In a 1979 Scientific American article Nobel laureate Francis Crick suggested that the major challenge facing neuroscience was the need to control one type of cell in the brain while leaving others unaltered. Meanwhile, in a realm of biology as distant from the study of the mammalian brain as might seem possible, researchers were working on microorganisms that would only much later turn out to be relevant. Related:  Research/parasites&protocol (theories)

Noninvasive brain control: New light-sensitive protein enables simpler, more powerful optogenetics -- ScienceDaily Optogenetics, a technology that allows scientists to control brain activity by shining light on neurons, relies on light-sensitive proteins that can suppress or stimulate electrical signals within cells. This technique requires a light source to be implanted in the brain, where it can reach the cells to be controlled. MIT engineers have now developed the first light-sensitive molecule that enables neurons to be silenced noninvasively, using a light source outside the skull. This makes it possible to do long-term studies without an implanted light source. The protein, known as Jaws, also allows a larger volume of tissue to be influenced at once. This noninvasive approach could pave the way to using optogenetics in human patients to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders, the researchers say, although much more testing and development is needed. Mining nature's diversity To find a better alternative, Boyden, graduate student Amy Chuong, and colleagues turned to the natural world.

Optogenetics: controlling brain cells with lasers - life - 07 January 2010 Brain cells can be switched on and off like light bulbs using newly identified microbial proteins that are sensitive to the colour of laser light. The discovery is the latest in the fast-moving field of optogenetics, which has already given researchers unparalleled control over brain circuits in laboratory animals. The technology may lead to treatments for conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and blindness. New Scientist explains the science and its promise. How do scientists control brain cells with lasers? Neurons fire when electrically charged atoms – ions – flood in and out of them, creating a tiny electric potential across their membranes. One algal protein, channelrhodopsin-2, turns neurons on when bathed in blue light, while its foil, halorhodopsin, silences neurons under yellow light. If these proteins are already around, what's new? Channelrhodopsin-2 works swimmingly: it recently helped identify a brain circuit that, when activated, may ease symptoms of Parkinson's.

Optogenetics in monkeys | Human Frontier Science Program Rhesus monkeys are a unique model for investigating the neural correlates of highly cognitive functions and fine motor control. Optogenetics is a new technique using optical excitation and inhibition of specific neuron types based on their expression or projection patterns. With the aim to combine both fields, the authors adapted optogenetic tools to the specific requirements of non-human primate research. This opens the door for a multitude of new scientific experiments investigating causal relationships between neural activities, connections between brain areas, and complex behaviors which can only be studied in non-human-primates. HFSP Long-Term Fellow Ilka Diester and colleaguesauthored on Tue, 08 February 2011 Rhesus monkeys are a unique model for investigating the neural correlates of highly cognitive functions and fine motor control. The aim of this study was to help enable safe, reliable, and effective new experiments using tools designed specifically for non-human primates.

Versatility of optogenetics brain-research technique vastly expanded Recently, brain researchers have gained a powerful new way to troubleshoot neural circuits associated with depression, Parkinson's disease and other conditions in small animals such as rats. They use an optogenetics technology, invented at Stanford University, that precisely turns select brain cells on or off with flashes of light. Although useful, the optogenetics tool set has been limited. In a paper to be published in the April 2 edition of Cell, the Stanford researchers describe major advances that will enable a much wider range of experiments in larger animals. The new capabilities include ways to use any visible color of light (instead of just a few) to control cells, and ways to make cells susceptible to the optogenetics technique even if they cannot be genetically engineered directly. One of the most important new "instruments" is the ability to use light bordering on infrared wavelengths to suppress cell activity.

Optogenetics: A wireless, optical router for your brain Ready for the Bleeding Edge Science Word of the Day? Optogenetics. It’s even weirder than it sounds, too: optogenetics is the manipulation of a cell’s functions with light (usually lasers). Today, American startup Kendall Research has announced that it has made a wireless optogenetics device that the company’s founder calls “a wireless router for the brain.” To understand the importance of optogenetics, and to marvel at the magic of hooking your brain up to a network with a wireless router, we have to first look at how researchers currently investigate cell function, and thus just how groundbreakingly different the optogenetic approach is. At the moment, the only real way to investigate animal cells is to knock out a function, usually by breeding a genetically engineered mutant. Now, back to the “wireless router” claim. As far as humans are concerned, optogenetics are probably the key to Matrix-like “I want to learn Kung Fu!” Read more at Technology Review

Light switches on the brain | Moheb Costandi | Science Leading lights in optogenetics presented the latest developments in their field during a mini-symposium at the 40th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego at the weekend. Optogenetics has emerged in the past decade as a high-precision tool for monitoring and controlling the activity of nerve cells. It is based on light-sensitive proteins called rhodopsins, which are isolated from algae and bacteria and are related to the proteins found in the human retina. When rhodopsins in the human eye's photoreceptors are struck by light, they initiate a cascade of biochemical reactions, causing the cells to send signals to the brain via the optic nerve. But the microbial rhodopsins behave differently – they alter the electrical properties of neurons directly, and it is these properties that make them so useful. When introduced into neurons, they insert themselves into the membrane, making the cells sensitive to light. Mo Costandi writes the Neurophilosophy blog

Optogenetics and genomic tools make it possible to pinpoint the source of memory, consciousness, and emotions. What might be called the “make love, not war” branch of behavioral neuroscience began to take shape in (where else?) California several years ago, when researchers in David J. Anderson’s laboratory at Caltech decided to tackle the biology of aggression. They initiated the line of research by orchestrating the murine version of Fight Night: they goaded male mice into tangling with rival males and then, with painstaking molecular detective work, zeroed in on a smattering of cells in the hypothalamus that became active when the mice started to fight. The hypothalamus is a small structure deep in the brain that, among other functions, coördinates sensory inputs—the appearance of a rival, for example—with instinctual behavioral responses. By 2010, Anderson’s Caltech lab had begun to tease apart the underlying mechanisms and neural circuitry of aggression in their pugnacious mice. That was a provocative discovery, but it was also a relic of old-style neuroscience. Connections Eavesdropping

Neuronal light switches : Neurophilosophy The September issue of Scientific American contains an excellent and lengthy article about a state-of-the-art technique called optogenetics, by molecular physiologist Gero Miesenböck, who has been instrumental in its development. As its name suggests, optogenetics is a combination of optics and genetic engineering. It is a powerful new method for investigating the function of neuronal circuits, based a number of light-sensitive proteins which have recently been isolated from various micro-organisms. By fusing their genes to promoters which control where they will be activated, researchers can target the proteins to specified cells and thus render those cells sensitive to light. The activity of cells expressing these proteins can therefore be controlled by laser pulses. In his article, Miesenböck describes how he and others developed optogenetics from existing techniques which use fluorecsent proteins as cellular dyes. Related:

LIGHT-GUIDING HYDROGEL DEVICES FOR CELL-BASED SENSING AND THERAPY - THE GENERAL HOSPITAL CORPORATION The present patent application claims priority from and benefit of the U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/892,535 filed on 18 Oct. 2013 and titled “Light-Guiding Hydrogel Implants for Cell-Based Sensing and Therapy.” The present application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/239,607 filed on Feb. 19, 2014 and titled “Systems and Methods for Facilitating Optical Processes in a Biological Tissue”. This invention was made with government support under Grants Numbers NIH R21 EB013761, NSF ECS-1101947, DOD FA9550-10-1-0537 awarded by the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Defense. As the autonomous building block of the body, cells are known to have abilities to sense the local ambient environment and respond to external chemical and physical cues. Light offers an attractive means of communication with the cells in the biological system. Fabrication and Characterization of a Polymer Hydrogel Body. Discussion

Defeat Lyme disease without antibiotics (NaturalHealth365) Let’s be blunt: Western medicine will never really cure Lyme disease because the focus (like everything they do) is on symptoms, not the underlying cause. In fact, sadly, if you’ve been suffering with Lyme disease for some time, you’ve probably been labeled with a mental illness and largely ignored by conventionally-trained physicians. Defeat Lyme disease without harmful medications. Simply sign up now for access to our free, weekly show by entering your email address and you’ll receive show times plus FREE gifts! According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 300,000 people get Lyme – every year! Lyme is actually cause by a weak immune system, damaged cellular function, uncontrolled bacterial infections throughout the body and other environmental triggers such as, mold and parasites. Bottom line, to cure Lyme disease (naturally) – one MUST improve immune function, cellular metabolism, eliminate toxins and reduce stress. He goes on to say … “Dr. Food & Nutrition

Piezoelectricity - How does it work? | What is it used for? by Chris Woodford. Last updated: August 11, 2017. You've probably used piezoelectricity (pronounced "pee-ay-zo-electricity") quite a few times today. If you've got a quartz watch, piezoelectricity is what helps it keep regular time. If you've been writing a letter or an essay on your computer with the help of voice recognition software, the microphone you spoke into probably used piezoelectricity to turn the sound energy in your voice into electrical signals your computer could interpret. If you're a bit of an audiophile and like listening to music on vinyl, your gramophone would have been using piezoelectricity to "read" the sounds from your LP records. Photo: A piezoelectric actuator used by NASA for various kinds of testing. What is piezoelectricity? Squeeze certain crystals (such as quartz) and you can make electricity flow through them. What causes piezoelectricity? Artwork: What scientists mean by a crystal: the regular, repeating arrangement of atoms in a solid.

Astronauts find living organisms clinging to the International Space Station, and aren’t sure how they got there During a spacewalk intended to clean the International Space Station, Russian astronauts took samples from the exterior of the station for a routine analysis. The results of the experiment were quite surprising. Astronauts expected to find nothing more than contaminants created by the engines of incoming and outgoing spacecraft, but instead found that living organisms were clinging to outside of the ISS. The astronauts identified the organisms as sea plankton that likely originated from Earth, but the team couldn’t find a concrete explanation as to how these organisms made it all the way up to the space station — or how they managed to survive. A colorized scanning electron micrograph of a tardigrade. Though NASA has so far been unable to confirm whether or not the Russians truly did discover sea plankton clinging to the exterior of the station, there is some precedent for certain creatures being able to survive the vacuum of space. The International Space Station