The Memory-Modifying Potential of Optogenetics and the Need for Neuroethics

NanoEthics 14 (3):207-225 (2020)
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Optogenetics is an invasive neuromodulation technology involving the use of light to control the activity of individual neurons. Even though optogenetics is a relatively new neuromodulation tool whose various implications have not yet been scrutinized, it has already been approved for its first clinical trials in humans. As optogenetics is being intensively investigated in animal models with the aim of developing novel brain stimulation treatments for various neurological and psychiatric disorders, it appears crucial to consider both the opportunities and dangers such therapies may offer. In this review, we focus on the memory-modifying potential of optogenetics, investigating what it is capable of and how it differs from other memory modification technologies. We then outline the safety challenges that need to be addressed before optogenetics can be used in humans. Finally, we re-examine crucial neuroethical concerns expressed in regard to other MMTs in the light of optogenetics and address those that appear to be unique to the memory-modifying potential of optogenetic technology.
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Archival date: 2020-10-19
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