Optogenetics hold the key to future brain disease cures, still creep us out

Those mad neuroscientists, they'll never learn, but maybe in the end we'll all be better off for it. Wired has put together an extremely intriguing write-up of the short history of optogenetics -- featuring a German pond scum researcher, a Nobel Prize winner, and rat brains controlled by beams of light. Optogenetics is a relatively new technique for communicating with the brain, which involves the implantation of particular light-sensitive genes into animals with the purpose of repairing neurological ailments through light therapy (no, not that kind). By hooking up fiber-optic cables to the affected area of the brain, researchers have been able to completely restore movement in mice with Parkinson's disease and their current efforts revolve around developing a less invasive method that doesn't go deeper than the outer surface of the brain. Most revolutionary of all, perhaps, is the eventual possibility for two-way traffic (i.e. a machine being able to both send and receive information from the brain), which brings all those cyborg dreams of ours closer to becoming a reality than ever before. Hit up the read link for the full dish.