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

Vlad Savov
10.21.09
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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.

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