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Monday, 30 December 2013

Gov-Funded Experiment: Light Can Be Used to Control the Brain

Susanne Posel 
Occupy Corporatism
December 28, 2013 

Using optogenetics , scientists can control the actions of a subject’s brain as if they were in a sort of hypnotic trance.This neuroscientific tool allows researchers to control living brain cell activity through the use of light.

The expected use of this technology is to more accurately diagnose epilepsy and depression.
Light can be an effective tool in controlling behavior and ultimately the brain itself.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS.

Edward Boyden, development professor of Research in Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spoke at a TED conference in 2011, wherein he discussed the use of optogenetics to “selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants.”

Boyden recounted how his team was able to “cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness.”

At MIT, Boyden is involved in developing “tools for mapping, controlling, observing, and building dynamic circuits of the brain, and uses these neurotechnologies to understand how cognition and emotion arise from brain network operation, as well as to enable systematic repair of intractable brain disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Last month, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (WFBMC) utilized optogenetics to “highlight and obtain control over particular dopamine cell populations”.

Jeffrey Weiner, co-author of the study said that although the study was performed on rats that had been bred to be addicted to alcohol, there was a strong enough case based on the findings that this experiment should be tried on humans because of its “translational value”.

It was found that using light allowed the scientists to obtain “information about the different patterns of dopamine cell activity that could have an effect on reducing alcohol addiction.”

The study states: “There is compelling evidence that acute ethanol exposure stimulates ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine cell activity and that VTA-dependent dopamine release in terminal fields within the nucleus accumbens plays an integral role in the regulation of ethanol drinking behaviors.”

Elizabeth Hilman, biomedical engineer at Columbia University commented : “There was instant buzz about it. People were sort of running around and saying, ‘What is this thing, where can I get it, how can I do it?’ You can select that very specific genetic cell type, and you can tell that specific cell type to react when you shine light on it.”

Hilman continued: “It’s really hard to get light to go deep, and we all know this just from trying to shine a flashlight through our hand.”

Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism
December 28, 2013 - See more at:

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