A team of South Korean researchers have developed a new tool that uses only light to control brain circuits, emotion, and behaviors.
As reported by The Debrief, a press release for the study explains that the ontogenetic technology, dubbed Opto-vTrap, is “a light-inducible and reversible inhibition system that can temporarily trap vesicles from being released from brain cells” — meaning that emotions and behaviors of the mind can be controlled at a chemical level using only a single light source.
Director C. Justin Lee at the Center for Cognition and Sociality within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and professor Heo Won Do at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) led the study, and their findings were later published in the scientific journal Neuron, further outlining the components and processes behind the Opto-vTrap.
The research team tested the technique on mice in a lab setting and discovered that the system’s blue light was capable of temporarily controlling the release of neurotransmitters. The light triggered vesicle clusterization in the brain, which declustered when the light was turned off again, with neurons regaining their full functions within an hour.
The authors of the study underscored the importance of studying brain cell types in order to better understand brain functions. They considered the real-world benefits of a technology like Opto-vTrap and how it could be used in various fields of brain science research to potentially contribute to the treatment of certain neurological disorders in the future.
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“The usability of Opto-vTrap can extend not only to neuroscience but also to our lives,” Lee explained, speaking of the tool’s ability to uncover complex interactions in the brain. “Opto-vTrap will contribute not only to elucidate brain circuit mapping but also epilepsy treatment, muscle spasm treatment, and skin tissue expansion technologies.”
Scientists examine neurons to discover more about the processes of the brain, occasionally verifying or debunking previously held notions on the subject. One study left scientists in awe of how brains react to watching movies, having shown clips of various visual stimulus to mice. Researchers in the same field also found a way to restore some brain function in dead pigs.
Adele Ankers is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.
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