A new tool that could help map and track the interactions between neurons in different areas of the brain is being developed by University of Texas Arlington assistant professor of physics Samarendra Mohanty. The technology would be useful in the BRAIN (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) mapping initiative.
This new method, which uses a fiber-optic, two-photon, optogenetic stimulator, has been used on human cells in a laboratory, but is also expected to work in vivo. Optogenetic stimulation avoids damage to living tissue by using light to stimulate neurons instead of the electric pulses used in past research.
“Scientists have spent a lot of time looking at the physical connections between different regions of the brain. But that information is not sufficient unless we examine how those connections function,” Mohanty said. “That’s where two-photon optogenetics comes into play. This is a tool not only to control the neuronal activity but to understand how the brain works.”