With the Inscopix miniature microscope platform, researchers can precisely map the functions of the brain onto discreet groups of neurons in a region or discover finer subtypes within seemingly homogeneous populations by monitoring the responsiveness of individual constituent neurons during different brain states, stimuli, and behaviors.
The lateral hypothalamus (LH) is involved in diverse behaviors required for survival, from feeding to temperature regulation. Dr. Garret Stuber (UNC) and colleagues employed nVista to selectively image calcium dynamics in hundreds of LH neurons that express the neurotransmitter GABA. They demonstrated that this molecularly-defined neuronal population is actually comprised of distinct subtypes that encode either appetitive or feeding behavior, and solved a long-standing question in neuroscience.
Dr. Scott Sternson (Janelia) and colleagues took advantage of the unmatched optical access provided by nVista when coupled with GRIN lenses, to image hunger-sensing AgRP neurons buried at the very base of the forebrain. nVista imaging provided critical empirical evidence which confirmed their prior behavioral manipulation studies, and showed that activation of AgRP neurons transmits a negative valence signal, an unpleasant feeling that is only eliminated by eating or seeing food.
The evolutionarily recent prefrontal cortex is the seat of our highest cognitive abilities including decision making and goal-directed behaviors. Dr. Yang Dan (UC Berkeley) and colleagues conducted a detailed characterization of different genetically-defined interneurons by monitoring their activity at single-cell resolution during a goal-directed sensory discrimination task. They found that different types of interneurons controlled different aspects of the task, signaling either sensory stimulus, motor action, or reward and punishment.