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Using Optogenetics to Understand Neuronal Mechanisms Underlying Behavior in C. elegans.


ABSTRACT: Approaches for inhibiting and activating neurons are essential for understanding how neurons and neuronal circuits produce behavior. Optogenetics is a recently-developed technique which uses light to manipulate neuronal activity with temporal precision in behaving animals and is widely-used by neuroscience researchers. Optogenetics is also an excellent method to incorporate into an undergraduate neuroscience laboratory module because students can learn to conduct and analyze quantitative behavioral assays, reinforce their understanding of synaptic transmission, and investigate the genetic and neuronal basis of behavior. Here, we describe a module in which students use light to activate serotonergic neurons expressing the light-activated ion channel channelrhodopsin in wildtype and mutant Caenorhabditis elegans, and observe and analyze the effects on the movement behavior of the nematode. The methods described here provide a foundation which students can use to design and conduct additional experiments that may have never been done before. Thus, this laboratory module provides an opportunity for students to learn a state-of-the-art neuroscience technique, think about neuroscience on genetic, cellular and behavioral levels, and to develop an independent research project.

SUBMITTER: Pokala N 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6057767 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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