For those not already familiar with the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, if you follow great and exciting advances in neuroscience you will hear about work out of them frequently. Nikita Vladimirov (first author) and colleagues, including Jeremy Freeman and Misha Ahrens, just published a methods paper in Nature Methods describing a method for viewing functional activity of individual neurons in the whole brain of a “fictively” behaving zebrafish. Zebrafish are transparent and scientists have mapped their genome, making them a particularly valuable model organism. This new method, which involves a sort of virtual reality (moving light bars simulating movement) for the fish, along with expression of a calcium indicator which fluoresces when the neuron is active, was used to produce a very cool video:
One of the big challenges here was to avoid any of the scanning light that causes the signaling molecule to fluoresce from hitting the fish’s retina. Their solution was to scan simultaneously with two beams from different directions and along different planes, cutting off the beams when they would otherwise hit the retina and disrupt behavior.
Check out another take on this work over at