Pulsed infrared light alters neural activity in rat somatosensory cortex in vivo

Jonathan M. Cayce, Robert M. Friedman, E. Duco Jansen, Anita Mahavaden-Jansen, Anna W. Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Pulsed infrared light has shown promise as an alternative to electrical stimulation in applications where contact free or high spatial precision stimulation is desired. Infrared neural stimulation (INS) is well characterized in the peripheral nervous system; however, to date, research has been limited in the central nervous system. In this study, pulsed infrared light (Λ=1.875μm, pulse width=250μs, radiant exposure=0.01-0.55J/cm2, fiber size=400μm, repetition rate=50-200Hz) was used to stimulate the somatosensory cortex of anesthetized rats, and its efficacy was assessed using intrinsic optical imaging and electrophysiology techniques. INS was found to evoke an intrinsic response of similar magnitude to that evoked by tactile stimulation (0.3-0.4% change in intrinsic signal magnitude). A maximum deflection in the intrinsic signal was measured to range from 0.05% to 0.4% in response to INS, and the activated region of cortex measured approximately 2mm in diameter. The intrinsic signal magnitude increased with faster laser repetition rates and increasing radiant exposures. Single unit recordings indicated a statistically significant decrease in neuronal firing that was observed at the onset of INS stimulation (0.5s stimulus) and continued up to 1s after stimulation onset. The pattern of neuronal firing differed from that observed during tactile stimulation, potentially due to a different spatial integration field of the pulsed infrared light compared to tactile stimulation. The results demonstrate that INS can be used safely and effectively to manipulate neuronal firing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-166
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Electrical stimulation
  • INS
  • Infrared neural stimulation
  • Laser stimulation
  • Optical imaging
  • Tactile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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