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Rodriguez-Munoz, Diana L; Jaidar, Omar; Palomero-Rivero, Marcela; Arias-Garcia, Mario A; Arbuthnott, Gordon W; Lopez-Huerta, Violeta G (2021)


J Vis Exp (177):
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Fine motor skills are essential in everyday life and can be compromised in several nervous system disorders. The acquisition and performance of these tasks require sensory-motor integration and involve precise control of bilateral brain circuits. Implementing unimanual behavioral paradigms in animal models will improve the understanding of the contribution of brain structures, like the striatum, to complex motor behavior as it allows manipulation and recording of neural activity of specific nuclei in control conditions and disease during the performance of the task. Since its creation, optogenetics has been a dominant tool for interrogating the brain by enabling selective and targeted activation or inhibition of neuronal populations. The combination of optogenetics with behavioral assays sheds light on the underlying mechanisms of specific brain functions. Wireless head-mounted systems with miniaturized light-emitting diodes (LEDs) allow remote optogenetic control in an entirely free-moving animal. This avoids the limitations of a wired system being less restrictive for animals' behavior without compromising light emission efficiency. The current protocol combines a wireless optogenetics approach with high-speed videography in a unimanual dexterity task to dissect the contribution of specific neuronal populations to fine motor behavior.