Strategies to probe mechanoreception: From mechanical to optogenetic approaches

Zhi Gang Ji, Toru Ishizuka, Hiromu Yawo

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    There remain many questions about the rules governing the neural representation of touch; how the spatio-temporal patterns of points are integrated in the brain to generate the complex senses such as shape, size, weight, movement, and texture. Conventionally, the touch sense has been artificially generated mechanically or electrically with insufficient spatio-temporal resolution. Recently, the somatosensory system has been optogenetically investigated with the expression of optogenetic molecular reagents (OMRs) such as channelrhodopsin (ChR)-2 and halorhodopsin (Np HR). In a transgenic rat model that expresses ChR2 in peripheral mechanoreceptive neurons in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and the trigeminal ganglion (TG), blue light irradiation on skin or whiskers evoked a touch-dependent response in the cortex. Thus, various and reproducible patterned touch stimulations could be made by the patterned irradiations on the skin or whiskers. Optogenetic approaches could open a new avenue to investigate the neural representation of complex touch patterns using a combination of electrophysiological and imaging techniques.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOptogenetics
    Subtitle of host publicationLight-Sensing Proteins and their Applications
    PublisherSpringer Japan
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Electronic)9784431555162
    ISBN (Print)9784431555155
    Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1


    • Channelrhodopsin
    • FMRI
    • Mechanoreception
    • Neural representation
    • Optogenetics
    • Somatosensory system
    • Touch sense
    • Transgenic

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine(all)
    • Neuroscience(all)
    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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