How Scientists Can Manipulate Memories With Light

Scientists have found a way to trick the brain using light and optogenetics. What implications could this have for the future of medicine?

The fight against Alzheimer's disease is one of the fiercest in all of science. Researchers from dozens of disciplines - psychology, epidemiology, neuroscience - are coming at the problem from different angles and delivering some promising results. Indeed, scientists recently made some progress in assessing the degenerative brain disease by literally shining a light on the matter.

Optogenetics refers to a field of study in which cellular responses can be triggered and controlled by bursts of light. In the 2016 study, scientists were able to prevent memory loss in mice by way of optogenetic treatment and the approach may be an effective strategy for treating memory loss in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. As part of our ongoing DNews birthday celebration, Crystal Dilworth revisits the topic of her very first report with new updates from the field.

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Scientific American: Optogenetics: Controlling the Brain with Light

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Nature: Optogenetics: controlling cell function with light