Tools for illuminating brain function make their own light

IMAGE: Bioluminescence from cells cultured in a multielectrode array, next to a fiber optic cable. view more Credit: Jack Tung Optogenetics has taken neuroscience by storm in recent years because the technique allows scientists to study the brain conveniently in animals, activating or inhibiting selected groups of neurons at the flip of a switch. Most often, scientists use a fiber optic cable to deliver light into the brain. Researchers at Emory and Georgia Tech have developed tools that could allow neuroscientists to put aside the fiber optic cable, and use a glowing protein from coral as the light source instead. Biomedical engineering student Jack Tung and neurosurgeon/neuroscientist Robert Gross, MD, PhD have dubbed these tools “inhibitory luminopsins” because they inhibit neuronal activity both in response to light and to a chemical…


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