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Behav Brain Res. 2013 Oct 15;255:19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.05.007. Epub 2013 May 16.

Optogenetic strategies to investigate neural circuitry engaged by stress.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA; Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. Electronic address:


Optogenetic techniques have given researchers unprecedented access to the function of discrete neural circuit elements and have been instrumental in the identification of novel brain pathways that become dysregulated in neuropsychiatric diseases. For example, stress is integrally linked to the manifestation and pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric illness, including anxiety, addiction and depression. Due to the heterogeneous populations of genetically and neurochemically distinct neurons in areas such as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), as well as their substantial number of projections, our understanding of how neural circuits become disturbed after stress has been limited. Using optogenetic tools, we are now able to selectively isolate distinct neural circuits that contribute to these disorders and perturb these circuits in vivo, which in turn may lead to the normalization of maladaptive behavior. This review will focus on current optogenetic strategies to identify, manipulate, and record from discrete neural circuit elements in vivo as well as highlight recent optogenetic studies that have been utilized to parcel out BNST function.


AAV; AGRP; ARC; Arch; BLA; BNST; CRF; CaMKIIα; CeA; ChR2; Circuit mapping; DAT; GABA; HSV; LDT; LED; LH; LHb; MeA; NAc; NPY; NpHR; Optogenetics; PAG; PBN; POMC; PRV; PTSD; PVH; RG; RMTg; SNr; Stress; TH; TTX; TVA; Vgat; Vglut; W; adeno-associated virus; agouti-related peptide; archaerhodopsin; arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus; avian retroviral receptor; basolateral amygdala; bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; calcium–calmodulin dependent protein kinase IIα; central nucleus of the amygdala; channelrhodopsin-2; corticotropin releasing factor; dopamine transporter; halorhodopsin; herpes simplex virus; lateral habenula; lateral hypothalamus; laterodorsal tegmentum; light emitting diode; medial nucleus of the amygdala; neuropeptide Y; nucleus accumbens; parabrachial nucleus; paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus; periaqueductal gray; post traumatic stress disorder; pro-opiomelanocortin; pseudorabies virus; rabies virus envelop glycoprotein; rostromedial tegmental nucleus; substantia nigra reticulata; tetrodotoxin; tyrosine hydroxylase; vesicular GABA transporter; vesicular glutamate transporters; watts; γ-Aminobutyric acid

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