Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 9th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Mind Control

Stimulating specific brain cells to discover their influence on behaviour

18 June 2020

Mind Control

Our brain cells (neurons) control what we see, what we hear, and how we behave by sending electrical signals to one another. Figure out how to dictate what neurons say to each other and when, and in a sense, you control the brain. Although that may sound like science fiction, this is the basic theory behind a popular tool in neuroscience called optogenetics. Using light and light-sensitive proteins called channelrhodopsins, scientists are able control the electrical signals sent between neurons. For example, optogenetics allows neuroscientists to see what behaviours they can elicit in mice when they stimulate neurons in different parts of the brain. This image shows a specific class of neurons (in green) in the mouse brainstem that scientists were able to activate using light in a recent study. Optogenetics is used in labs around the world to shine a light on how brain cells control our senses and behaviours.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.