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Home Projects 2nd call (2009) 3. Fast imaging and optical control of 3D neuronal networks in vivo

3. Fast imaging and optical control of 3D neuronal networks in vivo

Dr. C. Petersen (EPFL), Dr. F. Helmchen (ETHZ) - PhD student: Aurélie Pala

To understand brain function it is essential to characterize neuronal circuits and their dynamics. Tactile sensory processing of whisker-related information is known to take place in the mouse primary somatosensory barrel cortex. There is a growing body of work reporting upon the activity of individual neurons during tactile behavior in this brain region. Individual neurons receive excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs and the essence of neural computation is to integrate these two signals. With current techniques it has so far been technically difficult to obtain information in vivo about the influence of one neuron’s activity upon its synaptically connected partners. Here we aim to express ChR2 (Channelrhodopsin-2, a light gated ion channel) in specific cell-types targeted by single-cell electroporation performed under visual guidance using two-photon microscopy. After allowing time for expression of ChR2, light stimuli will be delivered in order to drive action potential activity with millisecond precision in the targeted neurons, whilst simultaneously imaging the activity of the network with two photon microscopy and making membrane potential measurements from individual neurons. We hope that these investigations will shed light upon the synaptic influence of specific neurons upon their surrounding neuronal network.

Contact: Aurélie Pala