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A new technology has jump-started the technique in neuroscience known as optogenetics where neuroscientists target a single neuron in the brain of a mouse merely by turning on a light. This is done by using a light activated gene and inserting it into the genome of a mouse to be able to easily identify when the particular neuron is firing in the brain.
Optogenetics is a hot topic amongst the medical community today, surrounded by both praise and criticism. Its purpose is to control a brain's activity with light. This could have far reaching benefits with humans to help better understand the complex network of neurons that make up the brain. A stronger understanding could help humans better grasp how we create thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Identifying these neurons may sometime help people detect flaws or deformities in the various neurons in the brain that cause devastating mental disorders like schizophrenia, Parkinson's and depression. By controlling the activity of specific neurons, neuroscientists will begin to learn how each type of neuron contributes to the overall functions of the brain. The firing of a neuron through lighting may someday be a technique to finding the answers to some of the many open questions mankind has wondered about themselves both medically and physiologically since the dawn of time or this technique may not be able to work with humans due to its invasive nature in its current applications with rats. Time will tell as to whether this approach is effective, but nevertheless, the study of the human brain using light will help neuroscientists on the path to better understanding the neurons and how they work across this complex organ.