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Optogenetics most commonly refers to a biological technique that involves the use of light to control neurons that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. As such, optogenetics is a neuromodulation method that uses a combination of techniques from optics and genetics to control the activities of individual neurons in living tissue even within freely-moving animals. In some usages, optogenetics also refers to optical monitoring of neuronal activity or control of other biochemical pathways in non-neuronal cells, although these research activities preceded the use of light-sensitive ion channels in neurons.