Viviana Gradinaru (BS ’05)
Assistant Professor of Biology
This is an exciting time, as it’s now becoming possible for neuronal circuits to be engineered to reverse pathological states like depression, addiction, and Parkinson’s disease, and to enhance mental performance. With the convergence of accumulating knowledge about brain circuits and technological advances in imaging and electrophysiology instrumentation, previously unimagined experiments are possible. Until recently, no available technology could cope with the tremendous variety of cell types in brain tissue. Now, optogenetics—a technology based on light-responsive proteins—can be used to probe brain circuitry, offering insight into both healthy and diseased brains. This lecture will describe the development of optogenetics and its applications and challenges.