One of the most exciting new tools to be developed in neuroscience in the past decade is called optogenetics. It allows researchers to turn individual neurons in the brain of a living human subject off and on without surgery or other invasive procedures. Researchers around the world are now using it in the hopes of unlocking countless mysteries of how individual neurons work, how they relate to specific behaviors and how they are connected to each other.
Boris Zemelman, a neurobiologist in the Center for Learning and Memory at UT Austin, was part of a team that published a foundational paper in 2002 that demonstrated that the technique could work.
Read more about the development of this technique in the New York Times article titled "Brain Control in a Flash of Light" (April 21, 2014).