Optogenetically Induced Behavioral and Functional Network Changes in Primates

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Gerits, A., Farivar, R., Rosen, B. R., Wald, L. L., Boyden, E. S., Vanduffel, W. (2012) Optogenetically Induced Behavioral and Functional Network Changes in Primates, Current Biology 22(18):1722-6.

Optogenetics is currently the state-of-the-art method for causal-oriented brain research. Despite an increasingly large number of invertebrate and rodent studies showing profound electrophysiological and behavioral effects induced by optogenetics, only two primate studies have reported modulation of local single-cell activity but with no behavioral effects. Here, we show that optogenetic stimulation of cortical neurons within rhesus monkey arcuate sulcus, during the execution of a visually guided saccade task, evoked significant and reproducible changes in saccade latencies as a function of target position. Moreover, using concurrent optogenetic stimulation and opto-fMRI), we observed optogenetically induced changes in fMRI activity in specific functional cortical networks throughout the monkey brain. This is critical information for the advancement of optogenetic primate research models and for initiating the development of optogenetically based cell-specific therapies with which to treat neurological diseases in humans.