Optogenetic spatial and temporal control of cortical circuits on a columnar scale

Arani Roy, Jason J. Osik, Neil J. Ritter, Shen Wang, James T. Shaw, József Fiser, Stephen D. Van Hooser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Many circuits in the mammalian brain are organized in a topographic or columnar manner. These circuits could be activated—in ways that reveal circuit function or restore function after disease—by an artificial stimulation system that is capable of independently driving local groups of neurons. Here we present a simple custom microscope called ProjectorScope 1 that incorporates off-the-shelf parts and a liquid crystal display (LCD) projector to stimulate surface brain regions that express channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2). In principle, local optogenetic stimulation of the brain surface with optical projection systems might not produce local activation of a highly interconnected network like the cortex, because of potential stimulation of axons of passage or extended dendritic trees. However, here we demonstrate that the combination of virally mediated ChR2 expression levels and the light intensity of ProjectorScope 1 is capable of producing local spatial activation with a resolution of ~200–300 µm. We use the system to examine the role of cortical activity in the experiencedependent emergence of motion selectivity in immature ferret visual cortex. We find that optogenetic cortical activation alone—without visual stimulation—is sufficient to produce increases in motion selectivity, suggesting the presence of a sharpening mechanism that does not require precise spatiotemporal activation of the visual system. These results demonstrate that optogenetic stimulation can sculpt the developing brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1043-1062
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 19 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 the American Physiological Society.


  • Activity-dependent plasticity
  • Direction selectivity
  • Optogenetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Optogenetic spatial and temporal control of cortical circuits on a columnar scale'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this