Optogenetics allows scientists to selectively manage the firing of genetically modified neurons within living animals' brains.
The technology helps learn how the brain works and treat previously unmanageable neurological conditions.
However, according to researchers, the triggering of neurons has been pretty dumb compared to how existing biofeedback devices and many electronic systems work.
Now, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Emory University have developed a "closed-loop" optogenetic control system.
According to the scientists, the system can achieve optimal excitation of neurons all on its own. The new technique known as 'optoclamp' will allow for more complicated and nuanced experiments and may set the stage for advanced neurological rehabilitation techniques.
"Our work establishes a versatile test bed for creating the responsive neurotherapeutic tools of the future. Neural modulation therapies of the future, whether they be targeted drug delivery, electrical stimulation or even light-plus-optogenetics through fiber optics, will all be closed loop.
That means they will be responsive to the moment-to-moment needs of the nervous system," said Steve Potter, an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.