‘I hope to peak your curiosity with a vision of how we might enhance brain function as we know it, and possibly change our sense of self.’ – I-han Chou

By inserting genes into brain cells, causing them to express light sensitive proteins, specific neuronal activity can be switched on and off with light. This is optogenetics, a technique for controlling cells with light.

So far, research has focused on stimulating the brain to do what it is evolved to do: walk, sleep, wake up, turn right, for example. But what possibilities might this ability to manipulate individual neural circuits have?

The fascinating potential is yet to be realised. How might optogenetics enhance the power of the brain – and give it entirely new capabilities? What kinds of new sensors could we borrow from the natural environment, or create to enhance our sensory processing? Could optogenetics blur the interface between brain and computer? How might optogenetics be used for restoring brain function when it has been lost to disease or damage?

Finally, how do we manage the ethical implications of our new understanding of the relationship between neural circuits and behaviour?

New Frontiers: Optogenetics - I-han Chou Slide Share

Watch I-Han Chou's presentation here.

Author:
I-han Chou started her career as a research scientist, majoring in neuroscience. Her move to science communication was born of a passion to translate what she saw in the lab, into the world where science ultimately has its most important impact. Working out of Tokyo, I-han’s perspective on scientific research is truly global, working with a globally distributed base of academics to publish the latest scientific advances for an international audience. Of the hundreds of manuscripts that come across her desk each year, only a small proportion ever reach the light of publication. This puts I-han in the privileged position of having an overview of cutting-edge work being done in labs across the world. She is able to watch evolving trends and insights, spotting research momentum from a position that few have.I-han’s responsibilities at Nature Magazine include handling manuscripts in various neuroscience, including sensory and motor systems, decision making, executive function, and psychiatric disease. She has a BA from Harvard University and a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She did postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco Efficient energy use, Energy development, Energy economics, Energy policy, Energy Security, I-han Chou started her career as a research scientist, majoring in neuroscience. Her move to science communication was born of a passion to translate what she saw in the lab, into the world where science ultimately has its most important impact.Working out of Tokyo, I-han’s perspective on scientific research is truly global, working with a globally distributed base of academics to publish the latest scientific advances for an international audience. Of the hundreds of manuscripts that come across her desk each year, only a small proportion ever reach the light of publication. This puts I-han in the privileged position of having an overview of cutting-edge work being done in labs across the world. She is able to watch evolving trends and insights, spotting research momentum from a position that few have.I-han’s responsibilities at Nature Magazine include handling manuscripts in various neuroscience, including sensory and motor systems, decision making, executive function, and psychiatric disease. She has a BA from Harvard University and a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She did postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco..
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