The invention of optogenetics (combination of genetic and optical methods) controls brain signaling and provides hope for a new treatment for neurological disorders such as Parkinson's.
These 'tools' take the form of genetically encoded molecules that, when targeted to specific neurons in the brain, enable their activity to be driven or silenced by light, thus revealing how entire neural circuits operate.
These tools are also being explored as components of neural control prosthetics capable of correcting neural circuit computations that have gone awry in brain disorders.
Part of a systematic approach to neuroscience that is empowering new therapeutic strategies for neurological and psychiatric disorders, optogenetic tools are widely accepted as one of the technical advances of the decade, and could one day be used to treat neurological disorders such as Parkinsons.
The study was published in the May 2011 issue of F1000 Biology Reports.