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5 Publications

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    11/30/18 | Brain-wide circuit interrogation at the cellular level guided by online analysis of neuronal function.
    Vladimirov N, Wang C, Höckendorf B, Pujala A, Tanimoto M, Mu Y, Yang C, Wittenbach J, Freeman J, Preibisch S, Koyama M, Keller PJ, Ahrens MB
    Nature Methods. 2018 Nov 30;15(12):1117-1125. doi: 10.1038/s41592-018-0221-x

    Whole-brain imaging allows for comprehensive functional mapping of distributed neural pathways, but neuronal perturbation experiments are usually limited to targeting predefined regions or genetically identifiable cell types. To complement whole-brain measures of activity with brain-wide manipulations for testing causal interactions, we introduce a system that uses measuredactivity patterns to guide optical perturbations of any subset of neurons in the same fictively behaving larval zebrafish. First, a light-sheet microscope collects whole-brain data that are rapidly analyzed by a distributed computing system to generate functional brain maps. On the basis of these maps, the experimenter can then optically ablate neurons and image activity changes across the brain. We applied this method to characterize contributions of behaviorally tuned populations to the optomotor response. We extended the system to optogenetically stimulate arbitrary subsets of neurons during whole-brain imaging. These open-source methods enable delineating the contributions of neurons to brain-wide circuit dynamics and behavior in individual animals.

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    Freeman LabAhrens Lab
    03/22/16 | Brain-wide mapping of neural activity controlling zebrafish exploratory locomotion.
    Dunn TW, Mu Y, Narayan S, Randlett O, Naumann EA, Yang C, Schier AF, Freeman J, Engert F, Ahrens MB
    eLife. 2016 Mar 22:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.12741

    In the absence of salient sensory cues to guide behavior, animals must still execute sequences of motor actions in order to forage and explore. How such successive motor actions are coordinated to form global locomotion trajectories is unknown. We mapped the structure of larval zebrafish swim trajectories in homogeneous environments and found that trajectories were characterized by alternating sequences of repeated turns to the left and to the right. Using whole-brain light-sheet imaging, we identified activity relating to the behavior in specific neural populations that we termed the anterior rhombencephalic turning region (ARTR). ARTR perturbations biased swim direction and reduced the dependence of turn direction on turn history, indicating that the ARTR is part of a network generating the temporal correlations in turn direction. We also find suggestive evidence for ARTR mutual inhibition and ARTR projections to premotor neurons. Finally, simulations suggest the observed turn sequences may underlie efficient exploration of local environments.

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    12/30/14 | Light-sheet imaging for systems neuroscience.
    Keller PJ, Ahrens MB, Freeman J
    Nature Methods. 2014 Dec 30;12(1):27-9. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3214

    Developments in electrical and optical recording technology are scaling up the size of neuronal populations that can be monitored simultaneously. Light-sheet imaging is rapidly gaining traction as a method for optically interrogating activity in large networks and presents both opportunities and challenges for understanding circuit function.

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    Ahrens LabLooger LabKeller LabFreeman Lab
    07/27/14 | Light-sheet functional imaging in fictively behaving zebrafish.
    Vladimirov N, Mu Y, Kawashima T, Bennett DV, Yang C, Looger LL, Keller PJ, Freeman J, Ahrens MB
    Nature Methods. 2014 Jul 27;11(9):883-4. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3040

    The processing of sensory input and the generation of behavior involves large networks of neurons, which necessitates new technology for recording from many neurons in behaving animals. In the larval zebrafish, light-sheet microscopy can be used to record the activity of almost all neurons in the brain simultaneously at single-cell resolution. Existing implementations, however, cannot be combined with visually driven behavior because the light sheet scans over the eye, interfering with presentation of controlled visual stimuli. Here we describe a system that overcomes the confounding eye stimulation through the use of two light sheets and combines whole-brain light-sheet imaging with virtual reality for fictively behaving larval zebrafish.

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    Looger LabAhrens LabFreeman LabSvoboda Lab
    07/27/14 | Mapping brain activity at scale with cluster computing.
    Freeman J, Vladimirov N, Kawashima T, Mu Y, Sofroniew NJ, Bennett DV, Rosen J, Yang C, Looger LL, Ahrens MB
    Nature Methods. 2014 Jul 27;11(9):941-950. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3041

    Understanding brain function requires monitoring and interpreting the activity of large networks of neurons during behavior. Advances in recording technology are greatly increasing the size and complexity of neural data. Analyzing such data will pose a fundamental bottleneck for neuroscience. We present a library of analytical tools called Thunder built on the open-source Apache Spark platform for large-scale distributed computing. The library implements a variety of univariate and multivariate analyses with a modular, extendable structure well-suited to interactive exploration and analysis development. We demonstrate how these analyses find structure in large-scale neural data, including whole-brain light-sheet imaging data from fictively behaving larval zebrafish, and two-photon imaging data from behaving mouse. The analyses relate neuronal responses to sensory input and behavior, run in minutes or less and can be used on a private cluster or in the cloud. Our open-source framework thus holds promise for turning brain activity mapping efforts into biological insights.

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