1. Neuroscience
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Optogenetics: Exciting inhibition in primates

  1. Wim Vanduffel  Is a corresponding author
  2. Xiaolian Li
  1. Department of Neurosciences, KU Leuven Medical School, Belgium
  2. Leuven Brain Institute, KU Leuven Medical School, Belgium
  3. Department of Radiology, Harvard Medical School, United States
  4. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e59381 doi: 10.7554/eLife.59381
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Local visual sensitivity is reduced in macaques by activating inhibitory neurons.

A new optogenetics method can selectively stimulate inhibitory neurons and so reduce activity in a specific brain region. To test this method in macaques, De, El-Shamayleh and Horwitz injected the viral vector Dlx5/6 carrying channelrhodopsin – which activates inhibitory neurons (pink) – into the primary visual cortex of primates. Upon stimulation with light (torch), these inhibitory neurons were activated (top graph, blue line), subsequently leading to a deactivation of the excitatory neurons (grey: bottom graph, blue line). In a visual task, the monkeys were presented with a point that could appear randomly in different locations, and the subjects had to detect this point using an eye movement (green arrows). Activation of inhibitory neurons induced a blind spot in the visual field of the monkey; hence, monkeys were less likely to detect the point when it appeared in the blind spot (as indicated by the red cross). IPS: impulses per second (which corresponds to the firing rate of the neuron).

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