Researchers from the University of Illinois and Washington University have developed ultra thin optoelectronic device to measure and manipulate the brain tissues. The device, which can be operated wirelessly, consists of LEDs, temperature and light sensors, microscale heaters, and electrodes that can both stimulate and record electrical activity.
This device would make it easier for neuroscientists to examine the various neural circuits involved in drug addiction, depression, Parkinson's disease and other conditions.
Currently researchers use electrodes and invasive procedures, hampering movement, for deep brain stimulation. These procedures have the risk of potentially damaging the brain tissue.
The small dimension of the LED helps in overcoming the limitations. Moreover, the device can be injected into the brain without natural behavior and movements and sensors can target specific neurons in the brain.
The researchers demonstrated by implanting a probe into the brain of a mouse. Then they used pulses of light to stimulate neurons in a part of the brain's reward pathway. This eliminated the need for physical food to train the mice to learn a task.
Authors conclude that these devices have a great potential in neuroscience studies and could even be applied to other organs.