Lighting Up the Brain

The Science of Optogenetics

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 8

What if neuroscientists could look inside the human brain and watch individual brain cells send signals to one another? What if they could then control these brain cells to direct thoughts and actions?

This may sound like science fiction, but it’s actually a scientific revolution called optogenetics. Neuroscientists would like to use this new technology on human brains to uncover secrets about how the brain processes information and drives human behavior. Doctors hope to use optogenetics to restore sight and to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other debilitating or deadly health problems. Discover how the innovative work of leaders in the field is poised to radically transform science, medicine, and human health.

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 8
Genre Science, Young Adult
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Traditional Nonfiction, STEM, STEM: Technology
Copyright 2018
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Twenty-First Century Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 80
Publication Date 2018-01-01
Text Type Informational/Explanatory
BISACS YAN050010, YAN052050, YAN055000
Dewey 612.8/2
Graphics 1-color illustrations
Dimensions 7 x 9
Lexile 1120
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Bibliography/further reading, Index, Reviewed, and Source notes

Author: Marc Zimmer

Marc Zimmer is the author of several nonfiction young adult books and a professor at Connecticut College, where he teaches chemistry and studies the proteins involved in producing light in jellyfish and fireflies. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and did his post-doc at Yale University. He has published articles on science and medicine for the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Huffington Post, among many other publications. He lives in Waterford, Connecticut with his wife, their two children, and a genetically modified fluorescent mouse named Prometheus.



“[A] helpful resource . . . user-friendly to a general audience.”—VOYA


“[W]ill be useful for students doing reports on new research techniques in the field of neuroscience.”—Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“An intriguing and informative introduction to the field of neuroscience and the frontiers of modern brain research.”—Kirkus Reviews