Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Episode 7: Optogenetics

Inside a skull it's generally pretty dark. But about 10 years ago, as part of a new method for toying with neurons, scientists started shining a light in there. That method is optogenetics, and it allows for highly-specified control of neural activity by light, via genetic engineering. As part of the 10th anniversary, we cover the development and impact of this influential technology. With help from this review article, we talk about the scientific atmosphere when optogenetics was unveiled and what allowed it to take off so quickly. Then we get into the mechanisms of how neurons come to be controlled by light (and we stumble upon a fantastic government conspiracy theory along the way). Finally we discuss what has been learned by applying optogenetics for the past 10 years, what we could possibly expect to learn, and the possibility of therapeutics based in this technology.

The original 2005 article can be found here.

The c-fos/footshock/memory study is here.

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here.

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) 

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