Optical Light Stimulation

Researchers are looking into the therapeutic potential of stimulating neurons using light instead of electrical or magnetic fields. In the laboratory, neurons respond to pulses of infrared light, which can be supplied by a compact light-emitting diode (LED). Unlike electrical stimulation, which spreads through tissue and cannot be focused, light stimulation offers the advantage of being able to be pinpointed. Medical devices that might use light stimulation in the future include cochlear implants, deep brain stimulation implants, functional restoration treatments for paralysis or movement disorders, and retinal prosthesis. (A related emerging approach is optogenetic neuromodulation.)


Reviewed March 4, 2012
Lawrence Poree, MD, PhD
Member, International Neuromodulation Society
Professor, University of California School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesia, San Francisco CA, USA

Last Updated on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 12:00 PM