This post is part of our Primer on Optogenetics and was contributed by guest blogger Derek Simon.
The actual experiments you do will be determined by the topic you’re interested in studying, but, in today’s post, we’ll discuss some of the important considerations you should think about when developing optogenetics behavioral experiments. There are far too many behaviors that have utilized optogenetics to be fully summarized in a short blog post, but some examples I’m personally interested in include: intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) and place preference. The lab I work in (the Kreek lab) focuses on the neurobiology of addictive diseases, which means we are interested in circuits that mediate drug taking behavior. If a circuit reinforces behavior (activation of the circuit promotes subsequent, repeated activation), this is an approximation of reward or the sense of pleasure that the animal perceives through taking a drug. The ideal behaviors to test reinforcement are ICSS and place preference.