Optogenetics - making neurons sensitive to activation by light - is a great tool in the unraveling of the function of the brain in biological processes and behavior. In a recent study by Rodrigo J. De Marco and his colleagues used optogenetic techniques to uncover the role of the pituitary in zebrafish larvae behavior after the onset of stress.
For a few years now, optogenetics has been the answer to shortcomings of using pharmaceuticals or electrodes in brain research. The temporal and spatial precision of optogenetic methods rapidly produced many new insights into neural networks in the normal and diseased brain. But like any other methodology, optogenetics also has limitations. Although wireless options have been developed, optogenetics means neuronal control by light, and delivering this light to the selected brain cells is still an invasive method (unless you are using larval zebrafish). Additionally, the method can be difficult to scale up, including to more neurons, deeper brain tissues, or larger brains.
Tuesday, October 20th – I never thought I would be saying this by day three, but I am actually kind of getting used to how this works. I am absorbing all of the information like a sponge and it is apparently quite a big sponge, because I am ready to absorb more!
Monday, October 19th - After my “baby steps” at my first Neuroscience meeting on Sunday, it was time for some running action. Well, honestly, I wasn’t really running around, but I do feel like I walked a marathon. I was set on seeing all the posters today; with two sessions a day, I walked down all those aisles twice. (Can you tell I am kind of proud of myself? I am totally doing this again tomorrow).
Craving a certain snack, getting it from the fridge or at the store, then the joy of eating it. It’s a familiar ritual for most of us. Scientist say we are performing appetitive and consummatory behavior, and the part of our brain that regulates these behaviors is the lateral hypothalamus (LH). You can imagine that this is an important element in the investigation of, for example, addiction and eating disorders. The problem is that the LH seems to be a mosaic of different neurons with different functions, making it difficult to specifically target them.
In this post I am looking back at our most popular posts (based on numbers of views) on video tracking. Zebrafish, optogenetics, and Parkinson’s disease are topics that dominate the list, which honestly is no surprise to me. Let me tell you about these 5 posts that are definitely worth a read if you are interested in video tracking research!
At five is Zebrafish with Parkinson’s
By this point, we do not need to tell you how popular zebrafish are in scientific research. We also probably do not need to point out the great technological advances that are being made in research because of the use of optogenetics. It is safe to say that zebrafish and optogenetics are popular in neuroscience research. Today, let us tell you about the study of De Marco et al. (2013), which combined the two.
Not long ago, I wrote about optogenetics (in this post) and the work of Dr. Stuber and his colleagues at the Stuberlab (www.stuberlab.org). Another great example of optogenetics in behavioral studies is the work of Dr. Kravitz and Dr. Kreitzer at the Kreitzer lab (currently, Kravitz works at the NIDDK in Bethesda). Let me tell you about it.