Here’s a nice review of how optogenetics works and what can be done with it [cite source=’doi’]10.1038/nn.3427[/cite]. This is a good review for a neuroscience seminar class from the special methods focus of this month’s nature neuroscience.
This is a great popular-press article on the way corporations and individuals are jumping into the use of tDCS and other potential brain-enhancement technologies: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/06/12/transcranial-direct-current-stimulation-tdcs-technology/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NP_Top_Stories+(National+Post+-+Top+Stories)
An important idea in learning is the notion that dopamine signalling from the midbrain represents a prediction error that can guide associative learning. This idea has been around for a while, but evidence so far has been correlational rather than causal. Moreover, some data has suggested that dopamine represents reward and/or reward saliency rather than prediction error. A new report from Steinberg et al provides some causal evidence supporting the idea that dopamine release from the midbrain really does signal prediction error [cite source=’pubmed’]23708143[/cite]. Specifically, the lab used optocogenetics to enable light-activated midbrain dopamine release. They then used activation to overcome the classic effect of blocking. The primary paper is above as well as a good summary [cite source=’pubmed’]23799468[/cite].