Understanding how the central nervous system functions better than we do today will require techniques that let us see the action taking place along a myriad neural pathways. A team of scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute developed a new technique that combines high-resolution multi-view imaging and calcium imaging data to provide visualization (at up to five frames per second) of functional activity taking place inside the entire central nervous system of a larval Drosophila fly. The technique relies on careful preparation of the entire central nervous system, a light-sheet microscope that can scan across the entire sample at a rapid rate, as well as the algorithms that process the data to render a 3D image.
This whole-central nervous system functional imaging technique resulted in the mapping of 3D neural activity during fictive behaviors. The technological methods used represent an appealing approach towards the study of behavior, generated as a result of the architecture and functional dynamics of complex neural structures. Currently, the presented system is applicable for biological networks at a scale of up to 800 × 800 × 250 μm3. Yet, the implementation of these techniques may pave the way for the study of advanced vertebrates, and large-scale functional imaging of neural activity, thus providing us also with a new way of evaluating the effects of emerging therapies on the entire central nervous system.
William Lemon, a co-author of the aforementioned study, told Medgadget:
“This systems-level view of nervous system activity helps us understand the complex activity that underlies higher brain functions such as sensory integration and the generation of behaviors. Using this new technique that is compatible with optically opaque tissue, we are now employing high-speed light-sheet microscopy to study the nervous systems of higher invertebrates, such as fruit flies, and small vertebrates, such as zebrafish. In our lab, the zebrafish is currently serving as a powerful system for investigating the pharmacological control of neural activity and neurological disorders. With the current hs-SiMView microscope we are limited to imaging fairly small specimens, usually less than 2mm thick, but light-sheet microscopy is a rapidly developing technique. ”
Here’s a sample video of one of the scans:
Study in Nature Communications: Whole-central nervous system functional imaging in larval Drosophila…