To understand how the brain works and why it gets sick, neuroscientists need the clearest picture possible of the complex organ. One technique now at scientists’ disposal is optogenetics. This technology allows scientists to turn brain cells on and off with a single flash of light.
In 2013, Ernst Bamberg, Edward Boyden, Karl Deisseroth, Peter Hegemann, Gero Miesenböck, and Georg Nagel, received The Brain Prize "for their invention and refinement of optogenetics." In this video, Edward Boyden, a professor and neuroscientist at MIT, explains how the technology genetically modifies selected brain cells to make them sensitive to light so they can subsequently be activated or deactivated by illuminating them.