This post is part of our Primer on Optogenetics and was contributed by guest blogger Derek Simon.
The surgeries and standard molecular neuroscience validation experiments we discussed last week are only half of the battle when using optogentics to answer a research question. The flip side of the optogenetics coin is materials science-based. Light is delivered to your opsin through a small piece of fiber optic cable implanted into the animal’s skull (right). The fiber optic cable is threaded through—and fixed to—an optical insulator called a ferrule (below). The fiber optic cable/ferrule is inserted into the target brain region using stereotaxic surgery and cemented to the animal’s skull using dental cement (a similar procedure as implanting a guide cannula). A fiber optic patch cable is then connected from laser to ferrule to deliver light pulses to the target brain region.