Article in Maxwell, the quarterly magazine of the Electrotechnische Vereeniging, ETV, Issue 18.4, by Farnaz Nassiri Nia, MSc Student in the Section Bioelectronics on the basic principles of optogenetics and a state-of-the-art bioelectronics application for the treatment of epilepsy.
The brain is the mystery of the human body. Neurons, as primary units of the nervous system, are joined together into a complicated biological interconnected network. A conventional method to manipulate the neural performance within this network is to use drugs that alter the chemical balance of the brain. However, a crucial aspect of the nervous systems is the electrical signalling between the neurons. Bioelectronics has advanced the neural modulation techniques beyond the conventional methods by developing electrical brain stimulation tools. Electrical brain stimulation is truly beneficial to understand the mechanism underlying neural behaviour, and develop novel therapeutic methods. Optogenetics is another breakthrough method in neural stimulation techniques, which has opened up entirely new avenues of research opportunities in the fields of neuroscience and bioelectronics. In this article, the basic principles of optogenetics and a state-of-the-art bioelectronics application for the treatment of epilepsy are described.