CRI Research in brief
CRI Research Collaboratory is a research unit of INSERM and University of Paris (UMR U1284), working at the crossroads of life, learning, and digital sciences.

Founded in the spirit of facilitating the transition from closed scientific enquiry to a more open model we aim to transcending barriers between disciplines, science and the society.

We foster research at crossroads between interdisciplinary life and health sciences, basic understanding of learning processes and novel education technology/methodology testing and implementation, and digital sciences.

Research News
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Thursday, December 1, 2022
9:00 AM
Optogenetics and Philosophy: Mutual Enlightenment?

Please note the date of the event which is Thursday 1st December. Sorry for the mistake in the first version of the flyer.

In an often-quoted paper of 1999, Francis Crick pointed out that "to turn the firing of one or more types of neurons on and off in the alert animal in a rapid manner, the ideal signal would be light". Several years after the publication of the first paper by Boyden and Deisseroth in 2005, optogenetics has become a widely used method, the success of which goes beyond the realm of neuroscience, and which has also attracted the attention of philosophers (e. g. Craver, 2012; Bickle, 2016; Robins, 2016; Sullivan, 2018).

Optogenetics controls the activity of neurons or other cell types with light after expression of light-sensitive proteins in target cells. By activating or inhibiting neurons in animals, researchers have induced changes in behaviour and the cessation of symptoms of psychiatric diseases. Furthermore, optogenetics has made it possible to erase and create a memory, and to manipulate perception in behaving rodents. Strikingly, in a first medical application of optogenetic technology, vision was partially restored in a blind patient (Sahel, 2021).

The aim of this workshop is to bring scientists and philosophers together to discuss the impact, promises, current limitations, and significance of this method. Several key points will be raised during this day:

The contributions of the method: could we have otherwise achieved what we found with optogenetics? Can optogenetics establish a causal relationship between the activation of neurons and behaviour, and what does "causal relationship" mean in this context? Can it be said that optogenetics can control not only behaviour, but also perception, memory, emotional state, etc.? Available online
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