Optogenetics

Optogenetics is the amazing field that combines optics and genetics in order to control events in living cells. First predicted by Francis Crick (yes, THAT Crick) in 1999, a breakthrough came in 2005 when researchers found that mammalian neurons could be targeted and manipulated through this process (Fancy!). Optogenetics depends on manipulating channelrhodopsin, a type of chemical pathway in cells that has the unique ability of being controllable with light. It allows for them to be activated or suppressed when differently colored lights are directed at points on the membrane, changing their chemical balance. One of the most significant results of this is that scientists can selectively fire individual or groups of neurons in the brain with a high degree of accuracy. Sparking a mini-revolution in neurosciences, optogenetics allows the study of specific brain functions, including behavior. Since exploding in 2006, researchers have discovered methods to control the ability for mice to awake from a nap, the speed of eye movements in nonhuman primates, changing of social behaviors (such as angry to friendly) and possibly to teach new cells in the eye to see. The latter is one of the first movements towards therapeutic uses, aiming to improve or return sight to those whose primary sight cells (cones and rods) are dead. Tests on rodents seem to indicate that optogenetics will allow for possible therapies for human brain disorders, but it is unknown if some practices will scale to the complexity of the human brain.

Guest article written by Andrew Kays (ThePublicScience.tumblr.com)

Light Work

Understanding more about the human brain’s estimated 100 billion interconnected nerve cells, or neurons, could help us develop new treatments for disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. One method of investigating brain activity is to genetically engineer an animal, such as a mouse, so that its neurons produce a light-sensitive protein, opsin. Neuron activity can then be triggered by shining light on the brain, once it’s exposed in the anaesthetised animal. The computer simulation here illustrates a light beam hitting clusters of opsin on a neuron surface. The resulting nerve signals can be detected in connected neurons by inserting tiny probes to measure the electrical and genetic activity inside them. Scientists have recently developed a computer-guided robotic arm to insert the probes with greater accuracy than previously possible.

Written by Mick Warwicker

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TED Talk: Gero Miesenboeck reengineers a brain

I used to want to be a neurologist so badly. This is why. 

“Somewhere in pattern like this, there is you. Your perceptions, your emotions, your memories, your plans for the future. But we don’t know where, since we don’t know how to read the patter. We don’t understand the code used by the brain. To make progress, we need to break the code. But how?”

anonymous said:

Hey there, I was wondering if you have any information on mind control technology. I have found something about optogenics but I feel like a lot of it is skepticism. The story I'm writing is for a uni project so I want it to be as plausible as possible, unfortunately science is an area I don't know a lot about. Any information would be greatly appreciated :D

Sorry, I don’t know anything about it, but I think pretty much anything you find is going to be a target for skepticism. There’s no credible evidence that any technology has been produced which is capable of controlling a person’s mind. You can try reading up on The Skeptic’s Dictionary’s section on mind control just to get a foundation for what’s real and what isn’t. :)

Un nuevo estudio neurocientífico del Instituto Tecnológico de Massachusetts (MIT, por sus siglas en inglés), en Cambridge, Estados Unidos, revela el circuito cerebral que controla cómo los recuerdos se vinculan con emociones positivas o negativas. Los científicos encontraron que podían revertir la asociación emocional de recuerdos específicos mediante la manipulación de las células del cerebro con optogenética, una técnica que utiliza la luz para controlar la actividad de las neuronas.
Los resultados, descritos en el número de este jueves de la revista ‘Nature’, demostraron que un circuito neuronal que conecta el hipocampo y la amígdala juega un papel crítico en la asociación de la emoción con un recuerdo. Esta vía podría ofrecer un blanco para nuevos medicamentos para ayudar a tratar condiciones como el trastorno de estrés postraumático (TEPT), adelantan los investigadores.

Los malos recuerdos no son indelebles, según un estudio científico

Según estudios realizados en Tokio, todos los recuerdos pueden ser reescritos para así poder quitar de cierta manera traumas y controlar y quizás eliminar enfermedades mentales todo esto mediante una nueva tecnología con la que se pretende controlar el cerebro mediante luz, llamada ”optogenética”  y así se pretende poder comprender las reacciones del cerebro antes los recuerdos y así poder ver si se puede cambiar los negativos en positivos y viceversa. 

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NOTICIA COMPLETA: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/2014/08/27/los-malos-recuerdos-no-son-indelebles-segun-un-estudio-cientifico-6726.html



Que la carga emocional de un recuerdo se puede cambiar es algo que conocen y utilizan los psicólogos desde hace décadas, pero ¿cuál es el mecanismo cerebral que determina que algo permanezca en nuestra memoria como un acontecimiento terrible o como una experiencia agradable? El equipo de Susumu Tonegawa, del Instituto Tecnológico de Massachusetts (MIT), ha conseguido cambiar la carga emocional de los recuerdos en ratones mediante una técnica conocida como optogenética, y localiza por primera vez la región neuronal que puede ser determinante para esta tarea.

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Un nuevo estudio de neurocientíficos del Instituto Tecnológico de Massachusetts (MIT, por sus siglas en inglés), en Cambridge, Estados Unidos, revela el circuito cerebral que controla cómo los recuerdos se vinculan con emociones positivas o negativas. Los científicos encontraron que podían revertir la asociación emocional de recuerdos específicos mediante la manipulación de las células del cerebro con optogenética, una técnica que utiliza la luz para controlar la actividad de las neuronas.

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