Optical approaches to studying the basal ganglia

Joshua L. Plotkin*, Jaime N. Guzman, Nicholas Schwarz, Geraldine Kress, David L. Wokosin, D. James Surmeier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Altered synaptic integration is a major factor for many neurological disorders involving the basal ganglia, including Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. Despite the fact that most synaptic integration occurs within dendrites, nearly all we know about the physiology of basal ganglia neurons comes from somatic measurements. This is particularly true of neurons in the striatum, the major input nucleus of the basal ganglia. Principal spiny projection neurons (SPNs) of the striatum have fine caliber dendrites that are inaccessible using traditional patch-clamp electrodes. Two-photon laser scanning microscopy (2PLSM) and two-photon laser uncaging (2PLU) offer alternative strategies for studying synaptic integration in basal ganglia neurons, like SPNs. These methods also allow subcellular organelles like mitochondria to be monitored in physiologically meaningful settings. Combining these approaches with electrophysiological and optogenetic methodologies builds a powerful arsenal of investigational tools. This chapter describes how optical methodologies are being applied to the study of the basal ganglia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnimal Models of Movement Disorders
Subtitle of host publicationVolume I
EditorsEmma Lane, Stephen Dunnett
Number of pages30
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

ISSN (Print)0893-2336
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6045


  • Optogenetics
  • Spiny projection neurons
  • Two-photon laser scanning microscopy
  • Two-photon laser uncaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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