LCD projector used to control the brain and muscles of small organisms such as worms

The use of LCD technology to control animals little progress in the field of optogenetics – a mix of optical and genetic techniques has given researchers unprecedented control of brain circuits in laboratory animals. So far, the technique could be used only with large animals by placing an optical fiber in the brain of an animal, or lighting required by the body of an animal.Lu and graduate students Jeffrey Stirman and Matthew fa├žade has developed the tool with support from the National Institutes of Health Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan.

By connecting the illumination system and combining a microscope with a video surveillance, the researchers were able to monitor and record the behavior of the animals to move freely while maintaining the lighting in the expected anatomical position. When the animal moves, it changes the position of the light intensity and color can be updated in less than 40 milliseconds.

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This instrument lighting adds considerably our ability to monitor, edit, view and study how neurons, muscles and circuits ultimately produce the behavior of animals, said Hang Lu, an associate professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

This tool has allowed us to control the events defined in the places defined at times specified in an intact biological system, which allows us to dissect animal functional circuits with greater precision and nuances, said Lu

The lighting system provides a change in the off-the-shelf LCD projector, which is used to cast a colorful light on an animal. The independent channels red, green and blue, will allow researchers to activate excitable cells sensitive to specific colors, while others remain silent.

Once Lu and his team built a prototype system, used to explore the circuit touch of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neurons of locomotion and mechanical exciting and inhibition. Alexander Gottschalk, a professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Institute of Biochemistry, University of Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany, and his team provided the light-sensitive reagents for experiments optogenetics Georgia Tech.

The researchers use low-cost components from the normal liquid crystal display projectors to control the brain and muscles of tiny organisms, including worms move freely. Red lights, green and blue projector activate microbial proteins that are genetically susceptible to worms, allowing researchers to move in and out of neurons such as light bulbs and turn on and off as the motor muscles.

For their first experiment, the researchers illuminated the head of a worm at regular intervals while the animal moved forward. This produces an effect of winding in the head and caused the worm to crawl in a triangular pattern. In another experiment, the team scanned light along the body from head to tail, resulting in backward movement when neurons near the head were stimulated and forward movement when neurons were stimulated near the tail.

Experiences with the lighting system to obtain quantitative data of behavior that can not be achieved by manual testing tactile, laser ablation of cells, or genetic manipulation of neurotransmitters, said Lu.

LCD projector used to control the brain and muscles of small organisms such as worms