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Neuroscience method of optogenetics as good as electrical stimulation
Date:12/12/2013

ation method compared to no stimulation were small, but statistically significant. When the T was in the receptive field, one research subject became 10 percentage points more accurate (80 percent vs. 70 percent) when optically stimulated and eight points more accurate when electrically stimulated. The subject was five points less accurate (73 percent vs. 78 percent) with optical stimulation and six percentage points less accurate with electrical stimulation when the distracting character was in the receptive field.

The other subject showed similar differences. In all, the two primates made thousands of choices over scores of sessions between the T and the distracting character with either kind of stimulation or none. Compared head-to-head in a statistical analysis, electrical and optical stimulation showed essentially similar effects in biasing the decisions.

Optical advantages

Although the two methods performed at parity on the main measure of accuracy, the optogenetic method had a couple of advantages, Sheinberg said.

Electrical stimulation appeared to be less precise in the cells it reached, a possibility suggested by a reduction in electrically stimulated subjects' reaction time when the T appeared outside the receptive field. Optogenetic stimulation, Sheinberg said, did not produce such unintended effects.

Electrical stimulation also makes simultaneous electrical recording very difficult, Sheinberg said. That makes it hard to understand what neurons do when they are stimulated. Optogenetics, he said, allows for easier simultaneous electrical recording of neural activity.

Sheinberg said he is encouraged about using optogenetics to investigate even more sophisticated questions of cognition.

"Our goal is to be able to now expand this and use it again as a daily tool to probe circuits in more complicated paradigms," Sheinberg said.

He plans a new study in which his group will look at me
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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