Friday, May 22, 2009

Laser Probes for Brain Experiments

Prachi Patel, in a May 2009 article in ieee spectrum online describes how researchers at Case Western Reserve University are using light as "what could be a more benign, efficient, and effective way to study brain circuits." He reports:

"Ordinary electrodes can damage tissue, and they need wires to connect to power sources outside the brain. The light probes ... could be made with thin, flexible optical fibers, tiny polymer microcapsules, or nanoparticle-coated flexible patches. ... Once the probes are embedded in a certain part of the brain, you could wirelessly trigger neurons by scanning a laser beam on that area. (The near-infrared light used in the experiments is good at penetrating brain tissue.)"

(Image by Colin Anderson/Getty Images.)

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