Optogenetics is a tool that allows neuroscientists to study the outputs of specific neurons in the brain. It works by transducing neurons with light-sensitive opsins (ion channels, pumps or enzymes) that specifically activate or inhibit the target cells.
Before optogenetics, many studies of the brain relied on electrodes or drugs that could activate or inhibit a wide range of neurons, but that didn’t give neuroscientists the precise control they needed to understand how brains worked and what was wrong with brains that weren’t working.
Single-cell RNA sequencing, or scRNA-seq, is a new type of next-generation sequencing technology that provides an unprecedented level of detail to study the genomes of individual cells. It is different from traditional NGS methods, which measure the average genome of a cell population (bulk sequencing).
A single-cell RNA-seq map can help to distinguish among cell types and understand their interactions. This helps researchers identify new diagnostic markers or therapeutic targets for a range of diseases.
Neural prostheses (NPs) electrically stimulate nerves to restore functions lost as a result of neural damage. These NPs are available as external surface stimulators or implanted devices.
The most successful NPs to date are those that can control a range of sensations, including hearing and bladder control. In addition, some NPs can be used to control other functions, such as motor rehabilitation.
The brain’s connectivity is essential for the synthesis and processing of information, which leads to behavior. The ability to map the brain’s connections has profound implications for neuroscience research and clinical treatment.
Connectome mapping is the process of identifying and visualizing neuronal circuits. This requires thousands of dedicated electron microscopes, along with artificial intelligence that can trace the long-range projections of individual neurons and recognize and catalog synapses.