Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Live-imaging technique for mice seen as boost to studies of brain function and development

24.03.2016

University of Oregon scientists, using transgenic mice and advanced imaging technologies, capture brain-wide view of neural activity

University of Oregon scientists have looked into the brains of living mice to see in real time the processing of sensory information and generation of behavioral responses.


Using a specially customized wide-field microscope with dual lenses, University of Oregon researchers were able to put together a phase map showing regions of the mouse cortex that are active while encoding sensory stimuli. Colors indicate spatial positions (in azimuth) that elicit the largest responses.

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Wekselblatt

To do so, researchers developed a line of transgenic mice whose brains expressed a green fluorescent protein that lights up active neurons. They then used a customized wide-field microscope with dual lenses to capture images of the brain similar to what fMRI does in humans. Combined, the technique allows them to visualize the activity across cortex, the outer surface of the brain.

"This is like fMRI but with far greater temporal and spatial resolution, " said Cristopher M. Niell, a professor in the Department of Biology and member of the UO's Institute of Neuroscience. "We can visualize sensory inputs as they come into the brain, and the subsequent activity corresponding to a decision and behavioral response. We see the whole flow."

The wide-field imaging approach developed for the research provides a new tool that can serve as a bridge connecting human fMRI to live imaging of mice to explore the underlying mechanisms and genetics of brain function and development, said Niell and UO doctoral student Joseph B. Wekselblatt.

They are two of the four UO co-authors on a paper, which is now in press with the Journal of Neurophysiology.

Large-scale brain imaging is currently possible in smaller species, such as zebrafish and nematodes, but they lack cortex -- the top layer of mammalian brains where cognition, memory, language learning and motor behaviors occur.

The visualization is possible because of the fluorescent protein, GCaMP6, which was developed by researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The protein contains a calcium sensor and lights up when neurons are activated. The mouse line with GCaMP6 generated at the UO is being distributed to scientists around the world through a repository at Jackson Laboratory in Maine.

The transgenic mice can be followed throughout their lives, enabling the study of changes in brain function over extended periods of time, such as throughout the learning of a task. It also opens the possibility, Niell said, to explore brain issues associated with early development, adolescent behavior, schizophrenia and age-related deterioration of the brain.

Human brain studies done with fMRI, a specially developed use of magnetic resonance imaging, allows researchers to pinpoint specific regions of the brain that are active under certain conditions by measuring changes in the level of blood oxygen. It does not allow researchers to probe deeper to see specific neuronal circuitry occurring as tasks are performed.

The final step of the new mouse-imaging system involves two-photon imaging, which allows researchers to zoom in and see individual neurons that are active. Using the combination of wide-field and two-photon imaging, the researchers can study activity from the brain-wide global scale down to the local scale of groups of individual neurons.

"We deliver sensory inputs -- moving images -- that trigger decision-making by the mouse," Niell said. "As the inputs are registered and behavior begins, we can watch the flow of activity across the brain. You see it all in real time, and very quickly, nearly at the speed of thought."

"Our approach is faster than fMRI, where monitoring response is often measured in seconds," Wekselblatt said. "We see responses in a hundred milliseconds, and we can see the information flowing through cortex. You can't get that with fMRI. And then you can zoom in to see the circuitry behind the activation.

"In previous research, you'd have to use different animals at different times of their lives to get to information that you want," he said. "Here we can study the same mice over time to observe how patterns change when they are exposed to different variables, such as stress or medications."

By publishing their approach in the innovative methodology section of the Journal of Neurophysiology, the authors expect it will allow other researchers to use the approach in a wide range of studies of brain function, from sensory processing to cognition.

###

Co-authors with Niell and Wekselblatt are Erik D. Flister, a doctoral student, and Denise M. Piscopo, a staff scientist, both of Niell's lab.

The National Institutes of Health (grants T32 HD007348, F31 EY025459, DP2 EY023190 and RO1 EY023337) and the Searle Foundation supported the research.

Sources: Cris Niell, assistant professor of biology, 541-346-8598, cniell@uoregon.edu, and Joseph Wekselblatt, doctoral researcher, jwekselb@uoregon.edu

Note: The UO is equipped with an on-campus television studio with a point-of-origin Vyvx connection, which provides broadcast-quality video to networks worldwide via fiber optic network. There also is video access to satellite uplink and audio access to an ISDN codec for broadcast-quality radio interviews.

Links:

Paper, early view abstract: http://jn.physiology.org/content/early/2016/02/19/jn.01056.2015

Niell faculty page: http://ion.uoregon.edu/content/cris-niell

Department of Biology: http://biology.uoregon.edu/

Institute of Neuroscience: http://ion.uoregon.edu/

UO Transgenic mouse facility: http://hgem.uoregon.edu/

Jackson Lab: https://www.jax.org/jax-mice-and-services

Media Contact

Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481

 @UOregonNews

http://uonews.uoregon.edu 

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Rutgers researchers develop automated robotic device for faster blood testing
14.06.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Speech comprehension with a cochlear implant
04.06.2018 | Universität zu Lübeck

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>