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A recent review (Yizhar, 2012) on neural circuitries in social functioning revealed how optogenetics might improve our understanding of social behavior and psychiatric impairments, and possibly lead to the development of novel treatment methods.

Yizhar et al. (2011b) propose the excitation and inhibition (E/I) balance hypothesis, stating that imbalance in the inhibition and excitation pattern within neural circuitries is involved in several psychiatric diseases and behavioral deficits (e.g., autism, schizophrenia).

Using an optogenetic approach, it was indeed found that elevations of cellular E/I balance in the mPFC led to increased high-frequency power (30?80 Hz range) and behavioral impairment (Yizhar et al., 2011b).

Optogenetics has further been applied to cortical oscillations (synchronized neural activity), that are associated with various cognitive processes as well as psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, autism, and schizophrenia (Sohal, 2012).

Sohal (2012) demonstrated how a particular class of inhibitory interneurons play a causal role in the occurrence of gamma oscillations, which is important for the way neurons communicate.


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