UCL researchers have developed an innovative way to understand how the brain works by using flashes of light, allowing them to both 'read' and 'write' brain signals.
The new technique, described in Nature Methods, combines two cutting-edge technologies for reading and writing electrical activity in the brain. First, genetically encoded activity sensors enable neuroscientists to engineer nerve cells to visibly light up when they are active. Expressing light-sensitive proteins in the same nerve cells then allows these cells to be activated with flashes of light. By combining these two techniques, the team was able to both observe and control brain activity in mice.