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Femtosecond Lasers Power New Approaches in Optogenetics

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Longer-wavelength, ultrastable femtosecond lasers are enabling advances in this dynamic neuroscience technique.

DARRYL MCCOY AND MARCO ARRIGONI, COHERENT INC.

One of the most active and exciting areas in neuroscience is the use of optogenetics to unravel how neural pathways in the brain process and transmit information. Optogenetics involves the use of light-sensitive opsins — a special class of membrane-embedded proteins. Opsins are switchable channels or pumps for specific cations or anions whose on or off state is determined by irradiation with light of an appropriate wavelength. It has been known for decades that neurons transmit signals in the form of an action potential or voltage spike along their membranes. Therefore, if opsins are...Read full article

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