Scientists have found a way to trick the brain using light and optogenetics. What implications could this have for the future of medicine?
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Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light
“Optogenetics is the combination of genetics and optics to control well-defined events within specific cells of living tissue. It includes the discovery and insertion into cells of genes that confer light responsiveness; it also includes the associated technologies for delivering light deep into organisms as complex as freely moving mammals, for targeting light-sensitivity to cells of interest, and for assessing specific readouts, or effects, of this optical control.”
Zap Your Brain to Change Your Mood
“I had my brain zapped to change my mood, and I lived to tell the tale. At a private demo with Thync at CES 2015, I experienced a futuristic electroshock therapy aimed at making me feel better. It involved sitting with a small module attached to my forehead for 15 minutes while electric currents passed through my nerves to my brain.”
Optogenetics: controlling cell function with light
“In optogenetics, exogenous genes coding for light-sensitive proteins are expressed in cells, and illumination is used to alter cellular behavior. Optogenetics involves the development of light-sensitive proteins, strategies for delivering their genes to specific cells, targeted illumination and finally, compatible readouts for reporting on changes in cell, tissue and animal behavior.”
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