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An important consideration when probing the function of any neuron is to uncover the source of synaptic input onto the cell, its intrinsic physiology and efferent targets. Over the years, electrophysiological approaches have generated considerable insight into these properties in a variety of cortical neuronal subtypes and circuits. However, as researchers explore neuronal function in greater detail, they are increasingly turning to optical techniques to bridge the gap between local network interactions and behaviour. The application of optical methods has increased dramatically over the past decade, spurred on by the optogenetic revolution. In this review, we provide an account of recent innovations, providing researchers with a primer detailing circuit mapping strategies in the cerebral cortex. We will focus on technical aspects of performing neurotransmitter uncaging and channelrhodopsin-assisted circuit mapping, with the aim of identifying common pitfalls that can negatively influence the collection of reliable data.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





145 - 162


cerebral cortex, glutamate uncaging, neural circuits, optogenetics, Animals, Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, Humans, Neurons, Optogenetics, Synaptic Transmission