Infoscience

Book Chapter

Imaging the Dynamics of Neocortical Population Activity in Behaving and Freely Moving Mammals

The development of functional imaging techniques applicable to neuroscience and covering a wide range of spatial and temporal scales has greatly facilitated the exploration of the relationships between cognition, behaviour and electrical brain activity. For mammals, the neocortex plays a particularly profound role in generating sensory perception, controlling voluntary movement, higher cognitive functions and planning goal-directed behaviours. Since these remarkable functions of the neocortex cannot be explored in simple model preparations or in anesthetised animals, the neural basis of behaviour must be explored in awake behaving subjects. Because neocortical function is highly distributed across many rapidly interacting regions, it is essential to measure spatiotemporal dynamics of cortical activity in real-time. Extensive work in anesthetised mammals has shown that in vivo Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging (VSDI) reveals the neocortical population membrane potential dynamics at millisecond temporal resolution and subcolumnar spatial resolution. Here, we describe recent advances indicating that VSDI is also already well-developed for exploring cortical function in behaving monkeys and mice. The first animal model, the non-human primate, is well-suited for fundamental exploration of higher-level cognitive function and behavior. The second animal model, the mouse, benefits from a rich arsenal of molecular and genetic technologies. In the monkey, imaging from the same patch of cortex, repeatedly, is feasible for a long period of time, up to a year. In the rodent, VSDI is applicable to freely moving and awake head-restrained mice. Interactions between different cortical areas and different cortical columns can therefore now be dynamically mapped through VSDI and related to the corresponding behaviour. Thus by applying VSDI to mice andmonkeys one can begin to explore how behaviour emerges from neuronal activity in neuronal networks residing in different cortical areas.

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