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Deciphering pathways of information flow in the brain

Inscopix’s nVoke product for simultaneous imaging and optogenetics empowers researchers to dissect how different groups of neurons, whether intermixed in microcircuits or separated across brain regions, exert directional and causal influence on each other to shape the computations that underlie cognition and behavior.


Dopamine modulates mPFC-dPAG circuit in aversion by increasing signal-to-noise ratio

Neuroscientists from Dr. Kay Tye's lab show how dopamine released from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) increases the signal-to-noise ratio in the neural circuit from the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) to the periaqueductal gray (dPAG) to specifically affect processing of aversive behaviors. They employed nVista to monitor activity in projection specific populations in the mPFC to observe the activity of mPFC neurons that project to the dPAG compared to those that project to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), and then performed the key experiment with nVoke combining imaging of mPFC neurons with simultaneous optogenetic stimulation of VTA terminals to show the signal-to-noise ratio is greatly enhanced for aversive stimuli in the mPFC-dPAG circuit, but not the mPFC- NAc circuit.
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Dissecting inter-regional functional connectivity between BLA & NAc

Stamatakis et al 2018_Frontiers_GIF
CaMP6 calcium imaging in individual neurons of the nucleus accumbens during active behavior while stimulating basolateral amygdala terminals using nVoke

Inscopix neuroscientist, Alice Stamatakis and colleagues use nVoke, an integrated one-photon cellular-resolution Ca2+ imaging & optogenetic system, to investigate the causal link between the basolateral amygdala to nucleus accumbens circuit in freely-behaving mice. The ability to perform optogenetics and Ca2+ imaging in the same field of view opens up possibilities to test sophisticated causal hypotheses that link neural circuit dynamics with behavior, system states, and plasticity.

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Deciphering the role of striatal fast-spiking interneurons
in motor learning

The basal ganglia is involved in motor control and motor learning. In this study, Dr. Anatol Kreitzer (UCSF/Gladstone Institutes) and colleagues hypothesized that fast-spiking interneurons (FSI) in the striatum regulate motor control, but instead discovered an unexpected role in motor learning. The researchers then used nVoke to show that FSI influence motor learning by regulating calcium influx and synaptic plasticity in the principal output neurons of the striatum, the medium spiny neurons.

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Dissecting microcircuit function in the medial prefrontal cortex involved in avoidance behaviors

Vikaas Sohal’s research team at UCSF studies VIP interneurons in the prefrontal cortex, a critical brain region involved in higher cognitive functions.  They used nVoke to optogenetically “switch" the transmission of VIP interneuron activity on or off at specific times to see how this affected mouse behavior. They showed that the behavioral response required turning “off" the VIP interneurons and that mice were less likely to decide to venture into an exposed part of an elevated maze (typically anxiety-inducing in mice) when VIP cells in the prefrontal cortex were activated when approaching the decision point in the maze.
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The nVoke system gave us an unprecedented ability to simultaneously activate DA terminals while recording activity in anatomically-defined neurons in a freely-moving animal.

- Kay Tye, PhD, MIT 

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