Temperature-dependent activation of neurons by continuous near-infrared laser

Shanshan Liang, Fan Yang, Cheng Zhou, Yue Wang, Shao Li, C. K. Sun, Jose Luis Puglisi, Donald M Bers, Changsen Sun, Jie Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Optical control of neuronal activity has a number of advantages over electrical methods and can be conveniently applied to intact individual neurons in vivo. In this study, we demonstrated an experimental approach in which a focused continuous near-infrared (CNI) laser beam was used to activate single rat hippocampal neurons by transiently elevating the local temperature. Reversible changes in the amplitude and kinetics of neuronal voltage-gated Na and K channel currents were recorded following irradiation with a single-mode 980 nm CNI-laser. Using single-channel recordings under controlled temperatures as a means of calibration, it was estimated that temperature at the neuron rose by 14°C in 500 ms. Computer simulation confirmed that small temperature changes of about 5°C were sufficient to produce significant changes in neuronal excitability. The method should be broadly applicable to studies of neuronal activity under physiological conditions, in particular studies of temperature-sensing neurons expressing thermoTRP channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalCell Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Action potential
  • Activation
  • Inactivation
  • Laser
  • Temperature
  • Voltage-dependent ion channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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