The Inscopix miniature microscope platform gives scientists an edge in investigating how patterned activity in neuronal ensembles represents information about an individual’s environment, needs, actions, and memories in the brain.
By monitoring and disrupting activity in the same cells over months, scientists can gain unprecedented insights into how neural codes emerge and evolve during development, learning, disease, and therapeutic intervention.
The perception of location in the physical world is fundamental for our existence, from shaping memories to guiding navigation. By simply analyzing the patterns of activation of hippocampal place cells with nVista, Dr. Mark Schnitzer (Stanford) and colleagues were able to deduce the precise location of a mouse as it was exploring a familiar environment. The scientists tracked calcium dynamics in a record ~1000 place cells over months, and found that place coding in the hippocampus is highly dynamic, with different ensembles of place cells coding for the same location on different days.
The songbird is a model organism for studying learned vocal communication. Dr. Timothy Gardner (BU) and colleagues adapted nVista to image the zebrafinch HVC, a brain region involved in initiating movements necessary for vocalization during singing. By analyzing calcium dynamics at single-cell resolution during singing bouts, the scientists could dissect how different notes of the zebrafinch song are encoded in the stereotypical sequences of neural activity observed in different ensembles of HVC neurons.