In our new publication in Nature Communications we show how light from an array of miniature organic LEDs can be used to direct the locomotion of fly larvae in a highly controlled fashion by a neuroscience method called optogenetics.
Optogenetics allows light-driven, non-contact control of neural systems, but light delivery remains challenging, in particular when fine spatial control of light is required to achieve local specificity. In our newly published work, we employ organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) that are micropatterned into linear arrays to obtain precise optogenetic control in Drosophila melanogaster larvae expressing the light-gated activator CsChrimson and the inhibitor GtACR2 within their peripheral sensory system. Our method allows confinement of light stimuli to within individual abdominal segments, which facilitates the study of larval behaviour in response to local sensory input. We show controlled triggering of specific crawling modes and find that targeted neurostimulation in abdominal segments switches the direction of crawling.
More broadly, our work demonstrates how OLEDs can provide tailored patterns of light for photo-stimulation of neuronal networks, with future implications ranging from mapping neuronal connectivity in cultures to targeted photo-stimulation with pixelated OLED implants in vivo.