A system for optically controlling neural circuits with very high spatial and temporal resolution
Retinal Ganglion Cells
Retinal Horizontal Cells
Optogenetics offers a powerful new approach for controlling neural circuits. It has a vast array of applications in both basic and clinical science. For basic science, it opens the door to unraveling circuit operations, since one can perturb specific circuit components with high spatial (single cell) and high temporal (millisecond) resolution. For clinical applications, it allows new kinds of selective treatments, because it provides a method to inactivate or activate specific components in a malfunctioning circuit and bring it back into a normal operating range [1-3]. To harness the power of optogenetics, though, one needs stimulating tools that work with the same high spatial and temporal resolution as the molecules themselves, the channelrhodopsins. To date, most stimulating tools require a tradeoff between spatial and temporal precision and are prohibitively expensive to integrate into a stimulating/recording setup in a laboratory or a device in a clinical setting [4, 5]. Here we describe a Digital Light Processing (DLP)-based system capable of extremely high temporal resolution (sub-millisecond), without sacrificing spatial resolution. Furthermore, it is constructed using off-the-shelf components, making it feasible for a broad range of biology and bioengineering labs. Using transgenic mice that express channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), we demonstrate the system's capability for stimulating channelrhodopsin-expressing neurons in tissue with single cell and sub-millisecond precision.