Optogenetics in Psychiatry – A Simplified Review

Posted on:November 22, 2021
Last Updated: January 4, 2022
Time to read: 8 minutes

Optogenetics is a significant scientific advance that allows researchers to control specific cellular events optically. The technology was developed by Karl Deisseroth, a psychiatrist and bioengineer.  He coined the term optogenetics in 2006.

In neuroscience, determining the aetiology of psychiatric diseases is a significant obstacle. At present, the anatomical locations, circuit pathways and specific neuromodulatory processes responsible for psychiatry-related behavioural states are unclear or unanswered.

Despite significant genetic and pharmacological advances and the utilisation of impressive observational techniques, the neural connections at the circuit level and how they relate to clinical causality is still poorly understood.

Defining the specific cells and their specific neural projections that modulate adaptive and maladaptive behaviours will improve our pathophysiological understanding of psychiatric diseases. Furthermore, this mechanistic insight into circuit dynamics will also improve accurate diagnoses, the prediction of treatment outcomes, prevention strategies, and the generation of novel treatments.