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Controlling body movement with light: Neuroscientists inhibit muscle contractions by shining light on spinal cord neurons

Neuroscientists report that they can inhibit muscle contractions by shining light on spinal cord neurons. The researchers studied mice in which a light-sensitive protein that promotes neural activity was inserted into a subset of spinal neurons. When the researchers shone blue light on the animals' spinal cords, their hind legs were completely but reversibly immobilized. The findings offer a new approach to studying the complex spinal circuits that coordinate movement and sensory processing, the researchers say.
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