Recent developments in optogenetics have demonstrated the ability to target specific types of neurons with sub-millisecond temporal precision via direct optical stimulation of genetically modified neurons in the brain. In most applications, the beam of a laser is coupled to an optical fiber, which guides and delivers the optical power to the region of interest. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are an alternative light source for optogenetics and they provide many advantages over a laser based system including cost, size, illumination stability, and fast modulation. Their compact size and low power consumption make LEDs suitable light sources for a wireless optogenetic stimulation system. However, the coupling efficiency of an LED’s output light into an optical fiber is lower than a laser due to its noncollimated output light. In typical chronic optogenetic experiment, the output of the light source is transmitted to the brain through a patch cable and a fiber stub implant, and this configuration requires two fiber-to-fiber couplings. Attenuation within the patch cable is potential source of optical power loss. In this study, we report and characterize a recently developed light delivery method for freely-behaving animal experiments. We have developed a head-mounted light source that maximizes the coupling efficiency of an LED light source by eliminating the need for a fiber optic cable. This miniaturized LED is designed to couple directly to the fiber stub implant. Depending on the desired optical power output, the head-mounted LED can be controlled by either a tethered (high power) or battery-powered wireless (moderate power) controller. In the tethered system, the LED is controlled through 40 gauge micro coaxial cable which is thinner, more flexible, and more durable than a fiber optic cable. The battery-powered wireless system uses either infrared or radio frequency transmission to achieve real-time control. Optical, electrical, mechanical, and thermal characteristics of the head-mounted LED were evaluated.
Ki Yong Kwon, Andrew G. Gnade, Alexander D. Rush, and Craig D. Patten, "Head-mounted LED for optogenetic experiments of freely-behaving animal," Proc. SPIE 9690, Clinical and Translational Neurophotonics; Neural Imaging and Sensing; and Optogenetics and Optical Manipulation, 96902O (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 14, 2016; Published: 9 March 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2214769.
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