Volume 11 Supplement 1
Control of neural synchrony with light activated opsins
© Talathi et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010
Published: 20 July 2010
Synchronous neural activity occurs throughout the normal brain and has been associated with many important brain functions. Abnormal patterns of neural synchrony have been implicated in several neurological and psychiatric disorders such as epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease. Several attempts have been made over the last decade to suppress pathological neural synchrony through the use of pharmacological agents or electrical stimulation. However, these therapeutic techniques present significant technical challenges. For example, problems with pharmacological interventions include slow onset and offset, low target specificity and peripheral side effects. Problems with electrical stimulation include the lack of mechanistic understanding of the effect of the electrical stimulation on brain dynamics, trial and error methodology to determine effective stimulation parameters, limited battery life resulting in repeated invasive surgeries, and difficulty in producing purely inhibitory stimulus. Recent developments in the field of molecular and genetic biology now offer the opportunity to use optical techniques to modulate neuronal activity in vivo by making neurons light sensitive through the use of light activated opsins. Optical stimulation has potentially very significant advantages over previous techniques both in terms of temporal and spatial resolution. In addition, it allows for cell specific selective targeting to modulate neuronal activity.
This work was funded in part by the NIH grants R01-EB004752 and R01-EB007082, the Wilder Center of Excellence for Epilepsy Research and Eckis Professor Endowment to PPK.
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.