New technology controls brain activity with light-sensitive protein

Last Updated: Monday, June 30, 2014 - 13:53

Washington: Scientists have revealed that a new technology, Optogenetics, allowing them to control brain activity by shining light on neurons and relies on light-sensitive protein s that can suppress or stimulate electrical signals within cells.

According to the study, 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, which makes it possible to do long-term studies without an implanted light source.

The study found that the protein, known as Jaws, also allows a larger volume of tissue to be influenced at once.
Researchers said that this noninvasive approach could pave the way to using optogenetics in human patients to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders, although much more testing and development is needed.

The study was published in Nature Neuroscience.


First Published: Monday, June 30, 2014 - 13:53

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