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Inducible and reversible perturbation of the activity of selected neurons in vivo is critical to understanding the dynamics of brain circuits. Several genetically encoded systems for rapid inducible neuronal silencing have been developed in the past few years offering an arsenal of tools for in vivo experiments. Some systems are based on ion-channels or pumps, others on G protein coupled receptors, and yet others on modified presynaptic proteins. Inducers range from light to small molecules to peptides. This diversity results in differences in the various parameters that may determine the applicability of each tool to a particular biological question. Although further development would be beneficial, the current silencing tool kit already provides the ability to make specific perturbations of circuit function in behaving animals.