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The ability to wirelessly control neural circuitry has been a long-standing goal in neuroscience. Recent advances have put this goal in site using optogenetic approaches. In 2011, multiple groups presented the first attempts at making wireless light delivery application for optogenetics (Iwai et al., 2011; Wentz et al., 2011). These advances, however, were constrained to particular environments or apparatuses to power the devices. The radiofrequency power scavenging approach presented in Kim et al., 2013 frees the experimenter from these constraints. In the recent report, the Bruchas (Washington University at St. Louis) and Rogers (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) labs present ultrathin, microscale optoelectronics and sensors that can be used for the optogenetic manipulations. Unlike other wireless approaches this system can be used with any behavioral apparatus or paradigm, which should allow researchers to explore more complex behaviors while perturbing neural circuitry.
The wireless µILED devices can incorporate wired cellular-scale components that can all be inserted into the brain using a combination of a silk-based biodissolvable adhesive (Kim et al., 2010) and an injection needle similar in concept to electrode delivery presented previously (Kozai and Kipke, 2009). These components include, but are presumably not limited to, temperature sensors, electrodes for … Continue reading
Microelectrodes are powerful tools for in vivo functional studies. However they are limited in the number of information they provide. In January 2011, LeChasseur and colleagues (Nature Methods 8(4), 319-325, 2011) developed a glass microelectrode which was integrating an optical micro-channel for light delivery and fluorescence collection. The probe serves for specific cellular fluorescence optical detection and activation/inhibition. In a recent issue of PLOS ONE, Dufour et al. extended the multimodal aspect of this micro-optrode. They introduce a, aluminum-coated, fibre optic-based glass microprobe (diameter ≤ 10 μm) with multiple electrical and optical detection capabilities. The probe enables optical separation from individual cells in transgenic mice expressing multiple fluorescent proteins in distinct populations of neurons within the same deep brain nucleus. It also enables color conversion of photoswitchable fluorescent proteins, which can be used for post-hoc identification of the recorded cells and finally it enables dual electrical recordings. Figure 1 shows a representation of the microp-optrode and the modalities described in this paper.
These modalities are in addition to the calcium monitoring and optogenetic cellular activation previously reported (Nature Methods 8(4), 319-325, 2011). In this study, two different excitation sources and detection pathways were used simultaneously to differentiate two different populations … Continue reading
The optopatcher: an electrode holder allowing the insertion of an optical fiber into a patch pipette
In order to perform simultaneous intracellular recording and light stimulation of a single neuron, two separate positioning systems are often needed (one to position the recording electrode, one to position a waveguide near the recorded neuron). More sophisticated solutions for single neuron photostimulation involve light patterning techniques which are not suited for deep in vivo recordings. Katz et al. came up with a simple and affordable solution for this problem, by designing a patch pipette holder containing an additional port for the insertion of an optical fiber into the pipette.
This device, which they called “OptoPatcher” allows whole cell patch-clamp recording simultaneously with direct projection of light from the recording pipette. The holder spares the use of an additional manipulator and, importantly, enables accurate, stable and reproducible illumination. Moreover, the presence of the bare fiber within an aqueous solution instead of the brain can prevent tissue damage due to heating of the brain. In addition, replacement of standard pipettes is done as easily as with the available commercial holders.
The OptoPatcher was used successfully in vivo for intracellular recordings from different cortical layers in the motor cortex of transgenic mice expressing channelrhodopsin-2 under the Thy1 promoter and it was also … Continue reading
As optogenetic neuronal control strategies develop and get widely adopted in neurobiology labs, the demand for devices allowing combined light delivery and electrophysiological recording is growing. These devices, commonly called opto-electrodes or optrodes, already exist under a wide variety of forms, from the simple home made single optical fiber + single electrode to more complex microfabricated multi-fiber/multi-electrode systems. In the past years, Zhang et al. integrated an optical fibre in a Utah Array, and NeuroNexus assembled an optical fiber on their standard silicon shaft. Other groups implemented waveguides directly into the optrode fabrication process: Cho et al. integrated a microstructured SU-8 waveguide on the shaft of a Michigan Probe and the group of Ed Boyden integrated 12 silicon oxynitride waveguides on silicon shafts (paper1, paper2). Royer et al. in the Buszaki lab managed to establish silicon based shaft arrays with integrated optical fibers.
In a recent paper published in “Lab on a Chip”, the Stieglitz and Lüthi labs introduced a novel optrode which also comprises a microfluidic channel for liquid delivery at the tip of the probe. This channel can be used for example to inject a solution containing a virus right under the waveguide tip and around the electrical … Continue reading
The ability to deliver light into the brain for the purpose of controlling neural activity or other biological processes, optogenetics, has opened up new frontiers in both basic neuroscience and neuroengineering. One arena of great activity is in the use of microbial opsins such as channelrhodopsins, halorhodopsins, and archaerhodopsins to make neurons activatable or silenceable by light, thus enabling assessment of the causal contribution of specific neurons, brain regions, and neural pathways to normal and abnormal behaviors and neural computations. To date, numerous in vivo studies have used optical fibers, and fiber-electrode hybrids, to deliver visible light into brain targets in which neurons express opsins, but an optical fiber can target just a single region. An implantable probe capable of delivering light to arbitrary points in a 3-dimensional volume would enable more versatile optical control, opening up the ability to deliver patterned light to manipulate neural activity in distributed brain circuits.
The Boyden lab recently developed a linear probe comprising a set of integrated microwaveguides running in parallel to each other, microfabricated on a single substrate and capable of delivering light independently to multiple brain targets along the probe axis. In a paper published in Optics Letters, they now extend … Continue reading
Numerous applications enabled by optogenetic tools require the delivery of different light profiles within tissue. In some instances, wide-field illumination is needed to blanket a region of a specific brain layer, while cell body-size beams are necessary in other cases to achieve highly-selective localized stimulation; in addition, spatiotemporal patterning or multi-level access of light may be incorporated. In a recent paper published in Biomedical Optics Express, Abaya, et al. presented a novel device structure that facilitates three-dimensional deep-tissue light penetration with capabilities for simultaneous spatiotemporal modulation with different wavelengths. This device consists of > 1 mm length needle-shaped waveguides that circumvent intrinsic tissue absorption and scattering. This array can be adapted to a wide variety of illumination systems (e.g., microscope, μLED arrays, optical fibers, collimated beams, spatial light modulators) and can potentially facilitate the advancement of a broad range of applications utilizing optical neural stimulation.
The waveguide array is micromachined from fused silica/quartz wafers, which are transparent to visible and near-infrared wavelengths. First, bevel blades are used with a dicing saw to create arrays of pyramids as tips for the array. Next, the shanks are formed by dicing down material in between the pyramids to produce waveguides having a pyramidal … Continue reading