© LUCY READING-IKKANDA
Precision illumination techniques target light to individual neuronal cell bodies, but neighboring cells may be activated if their dendrites or axons lie nearby. Unlike regular opsins, which are distributed throughout the entire neuron, cell body–localized opsins, such as those described by Christopher Baker of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (eLife, 5:e14193, 2016) and now Edward Boyden’s team (Nat Neurosci, 20:1796–1806, 2017), prevent such stray activation. Boyden and his collaborators also use a more responsive channelrhodopsin for high-speed firing.
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