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Top tools and techniques of 2011

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Monkey motion control

Scientists are beginning to apply optogenetics to monkeys, whose brains and behavior mirror those of humans much more closely than do those of rodents. In unpublished research presented in November at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, scientists showed they could use the technique to manipulate monkeys’ motor planning. The effect on behavior is more subtle than that seen in mice, probably because the genes used to make neurons light-sensitive are expressed in a proportionally smaller chunk of the brain in monkeys.