Illuminating the Undergraduate Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory: A Guide for the in vivo Application of Optogenetics in Mammalian Model Organisms.
Roberts BM., Jarrin SE., Mathur BN., Bailey AM.
Optogenetics is a technology that is growing rapidly in neuroscience, establishing itself as a fundamental investigative tool. As this tool is increasingly utilized across the neuroscience community and is one of the primary research techniques being presented at neuroscience conferences and in journals, we believe that it is important that this technology is introduced into the undergraduate neuroscience research laboratory. While there has been a significant body of work concentrated to deploy optogenetics in invertebrate model organisms, little to no work has focused on brining this technology to mammalian model organisms in undergraduate neuroscience laboratories. The establishment of in vivo optogenetics could provide for high-impact independent research projects for upper-level undergraduate students. Here we review the considerations for establishing in vivo optogenetics with the use of rodents in an undergraduate laboratory setting and provide some cost-saving guidelines to assist in making optogenetic technologies financially accessible. We discuss opsin selection, cell-specific opsin expression strategies, species selection, experimental design, selection of light delivery systems, and the construction of implantable optical fibers for the application of in vivo optogenetics in rodents.