WEB FOCUS

Technical breakthroughs in neuroscience

neurobreakthrough

In this focus

Neuroscientists have made enormous technical breakthroughs in recent years. Advances in imaging combined with sophisticated methods for cell labelling now make it possible to visualize cellular and subcellular events in living brain cells, opening a window onto basic neural processing. New genetic tools combined with high-throughput methods have brought a much deeper appreciation of the diversity of components from which neural circuits are built. Finally, recent years have seen the arrival of new methods for manipulating brain activity with light. A new Nature paper describes the latest advance in this technology, demonstrating how light-sensitive proteins can be used to activate and silence neurons with precise timing.

This special Nature web focus brings together exclusive coverage of the discovery, along with recent papers describing and utilizing cutting-edge technology for understanding and controlling brain and behaviour.

Image: Christoph Peter Mauch, Klaus Becker and Hans-Ulrich Dodt.


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Video

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In these videos scientists explain how light can be used to manipulate brain cell activity with high precision. Hear them explain how this research brings the fields of bioengineering and medicine together, and what the implications might be.


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Current Research

ARTICLE

Multimodal fast optical interrogation of neural circuitry Free access

Feng Zhang et al.

Nature 446, 633 (5 April 2007) doi:10.1038/nature05744


NEWS AND VIEWS

Neuroscience: Controlling neural circuits with light free access

Michael Häusser and Spencer Smith

Nature 446, 617-619 (5 April 2007) doi:10.1038/446617a


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Podcast

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Hear more about how the breakthrough was made and how it is getting neuroscientists excited. We get the low down from project leader Karl Deisseroth and news correspondent Alison Abbott on the 05 April Nature Podcast.


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ARCHIVE

OPTICAL STIMULATION OF NEURONS


TECHNICAL REPORT

Anticonvulsant and anesthetic effects of a fluorescent neurosteroid analog activated by visible light

Lawrence N. Eisenman et al.

Nat. Neurosci. 10, 523 - 530 (25 February 2007) doi:10.1038/nn1862


BRIEF COMMUNICATIONS

Optical induction of synaptic plasticity using a light-sensitive channel

Yan-Ping Zhang and Thomas G Oertner

Nat. Methods 4, 139-141 (4 February 2007) doi:10.1038/nmeth988


BRIEF COMMUNICATIONS

Fast manipulation of cellular cAMP level by light in vivo

Saskia Schröder-Lang et al.

Nat. Methods 4, 39-42 (4 January 2007) doi:10.1038/nmeth975


PERSPECTIVE

Channelrhodopsin-2 and optical control of excitable cells

Feng Zhang, Li-Ping Wang, Edward S. Boyden and Karl Deisseroth

Nat. Methods 3, 785-792 (3 October 2006) doi:10.1038/nmeth936


BRIEF COMMUNICATIONS

Allosteric control of an ionotropic glutamate receptor with an optical switch

Matthew Volgraf et al.

Nat. Chem. Biol. 2, 47-52 (2 January 2006) doi:10.1038/nchembio756


PERSPECTIVE

Photochemical tools for remote control of ion channels in excitable cells

Richard H. Kramer, James J. Chambers and Dirk Trauner

Nat. Chem. Biol. 1, 360-365 (1 December 2005) doi:10.1038/nchembio750


ARTICLE

Rapid neurotransmitter uncaging in spatially defined patterns

Shy Shoham, Daniel H O'Connor, Dmitry V. Sarkisov and Samuel S-H. Wang

Nat. Methods 2, 837-843 (2 November 2005) doi:10.1038/nmeth793


TECHNICAL REPORT

Millisecond-timescale, genetically targeted optical control of neural activity

Edward S. Boyden, Feng Zhang, Ernst Bamberg, Georg Nagel and Karl Deisseroth

Nat. Neurosci. 8, 1263-1268 (8 September 2005) doi:10.1038/nn1525


TECHNICAL REPORT

Light-activated ion channels for remote control of neuronal firing

Matthew Banghart, Katharine Borges, Ehud Isacoff, Dirk Trauner and Richard H. Kramer

Nat. Neurosci. 7, 1381-1386 (7 December 2004) doi:10.1038/nn1356



MICROCIRCUITRY


ARTICLE

Targeting neural circuitry in zebrafish using GAL4 enhancer trapping

Ethan K. Scott et al.

Nat. Methods 4 323-326 (18 March 2007) doi:10.1038/nmeth1033


ARTICLE

Fine-scale specificity of cortical networks depends on inhibitory cell type and connectivity

Yumiko Yoshimura and Edward M. Callaway

Nat. Neurosci. 8, 1552-1559 (8 November 2005) doi:10.1038/nn1565


ARTICLE

Heterogeneity in the pyramidal network of the medial prefrontal cortex

Yun Wang et al.

Nat. Neurosci. 9, 534-542 (9 April 2005) doi:10.1038/nn1670


LETTER

Excitatory cortical neurons form fine-scale functional networks

Yumiko Yoshimura, Jami L. M. Dantzker and Edward M. Callaway

Nature 433, 868-873 (24 February 2005) doi:10.1038/nature03252


ARTICLE

Geometric and functional organization of cortical circuits

Gordon M. G. Shepherd, Armen Stepanyants, Ingrid Bureau, Dmitri Chklovskii and Karel Svoboda

Nat. Neurosci. 8, 782-790 (8 January 2005) doi:10.1038/nn1447



GENE PROFILING & FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS


ARTICLE

Genome-wide atlas of gene expression in the adult mouse brain

Ed S. Lein et al.

Nature 445, 168-176 (24 January 2007) doi:10.1038/nature05453


TECHNICAL REPORT

FACS-array profiling of striatal projection neuron subtypes in juvenile and adult mouse brains

Mary Kay Lobo, Stanislav L. Karsten, Michelle Gray, Daniel H. Geschwind and X William Yang

Nat. Neurosci. 9, 443-452 (9 March 2006) doi:10.1038/nn1654


ARTICLE

Molecular taxonomy of major neuronal classes in the adult mouse forebrain

Ken Sugino et al.

Nat. Neurosci. 9, 99-107 (9 January 2006) doi:10.1038/nn1618


ARTICLE

Systematic analysis of genes required for synapse structure and function

Derek Sieburth et al.

Nature 436, 510-517 (28 July 2005) doi:10.1038/nature03809


ARTICLE

A gene expression atlas of the central nervous system based on bacterial artificial chromosomes

Shiaoching Gong et al.

Nature 425, 917-925 (30 October 2003) doi:10.1038/nature02033



IMAGING & MICROSCOPY


ARTICLE

Ultramicroscopy: three-dimensional visualization of neuronal networks in the whole mouse brain

Hans-Ulrich Dodt et al.

Nat. Methods 4 331-336 (25 March 2007) doi:10.1038/nmeth1036


BRIEF COMMUNICATION

Improved calcium imaging in transgenic mice expressing a troponin C-based biosensor

Nicola Heim et al.

Nat. Methods 4, 127-129 (4 February 2007) doi:10.1038/nmeth1009


ARTICLE

Imaging cellular network dynamics in three dimensions using fast 3D laser scanning

Werner Göbel, Björn M. Kampa and Fritjof Helmchen

Nat. Methods 4, 73-79 (4 January 2007) doi:10.1038/nmeth989


BRIEF COMMUNICATION

Nanoscale resolution in GFP-based microscopy

Katrin I. Willig et al.

Nat. Methods 3, 721-723 (3 September 2006) doi:10.1038/nmeth922


LETTER

Highly ordered arrangement of single neurons in orientation pinwheels

Kenichi Ohki et al.

Nature 442, 925-928 (28 August 2006) doi:10.1038/nature05019


ARTICLE

Reconstruction of firing rate changes across neuronal populations by temporally deconvolved Ca2+ imaging

Emre Yaksi and Rainer W. Friedrich

Nat. Methods 3, 377-383 (3 May 2006) doi:10.1038/nmeth874


LETTER

STED microscopy reveals that synaptotagmin remains clustered after synaptic vesicle exocytosis

Katrin I. Willig, Silvio O. Rizzoli, Volker Westphal, Reinhard Jahn and Stefan W. Hell

Nature 440, 935-939 (13 April 2006) doi:10.1038/nature04592


ARTICLE

Characterization of voltage-gated sodium-channel blockers by electrical stimulation and fluorescence detection of membrane potential

Chien-Jung Huang et al.

Nat. Biotech. 24, 439-446 (1 April 2006) doi:10.1038/nbt1194


TECHNICAL REPORT

Supersensitive Ras activation in dendrites and spines revealed by two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging

Ryohei Yasuda et al.

Nat. Neurosci. 9, 283-291 (9 February 2006) doi:10.1038/nn1635


ARTICLE

Functional imaging with cellular resolution reveals precise micro-architecture in visual cortex

Kenichi Ohki, Sooyoung Chung, Yeang H. Ch'ng, Prakash Kara and R. Clay Reid

Nature 433, 597-603 (10 February 2005) doi:10.1038/nature03274


ARTICLE

Sulforhodamine 101 as a specific marker of astroglia in the neocortex in vivo

Axel Nimmerjahn, Frank Kirchhoff, Jason N. D. Kerr and Fritjof Helmchen

Nat. Methods 1, 31-37 (1 October 2004) doi:10.1038/nmeth706


ARTICLE

Reversible site-selective labeling of membrane proteins in live cells

Emmanuel G. Guignet, Ruud Hovius & Horst Vogel

Nat. Biotech 22, 440-444 (21 March 2004) doi:10.1038/nbt954