Millisecond-timescale, genetically targeted optical control of neural activity.

Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, 318 Campus Drive West, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Nature Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 14.98). 10/2005; 8(9):1263-8. DOI: 10.1038/nn1525
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Temporally precise, noninvasive control of activity in well-defined neuronal populations is a long-sought goal of systems neuroscience. We adapted for this purpose the naturally occurring algal protein Channelrhodopsin-2, a rapidly gated light-sensitive cation channel, by using lentiviral gene delivery in combination with high-speed optical switching to photostimulate mammalian neurons. We demonstrate reliable, millisecond-timescale control of neuronal spiking, as well as control of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission. This technology allows the use of light to alter neural processing at the level of single spikes and synaptic events, yielding a widely applicable tool for neuroscientists and biomedical engineers.

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