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188 Publications

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    Kainmueller Lab
    08/19/11 | Automatic extraction of mandibular nerve and bone from cone-beam CT data.
    Kainmueller D, Lamecker H, Seim H, Zinser M, Zachow S
    Medical image computing and computer-assisted intervention : MICCAI ... International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention. 2009;12(Pt 2):76-83

    The exact localization of the mandibular nerve with respect to the bone is important for applications in dental implantology and maxillofacial surgery. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), often also called digital volume tomography (DVT), is increasingly utilized in maxillofacial or dental imaging. Compared to conventional CT, however, soft tissue discrimination is worse due to a reduced dose. Thus, small structures like the alveolar nerves are even harder recognizable within the image data. We show that it is nonetheless possible to accurately reconstruct the 3D bone surface and the course of the nerve in a fully automatic fashion, with a method that is based on a combined statistical shape model of the nerve and the bone and a Dijkstra-based optimization procedure. Our method has been validated on 106 clinical datasets: the average reconstruction error for the bone is 0.5 +/- 0.1 mm, and the nerve can be detected with an average error of 1.0 +/- 0.6 mm.

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    08/17/11 | Cellular-resolution population imaging reveals robust sparse coding in the Drosophila mushroom body.
    Honegger KS, Campbell RA, Turner GC
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2011 Aug 17;31(33):11772-85. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1099-11.2011

    Sensory stimuli are represented in the brain by the activity of populations of neurons. In most biological systems, studying population coding is challenging since only a tiny proportion of cells can be recorded simultaneously. Here we used two-photon imaging to record neural activity in the relatively simple Drosophila mushroom body (MB), an area involved in olfactory learning and memory. Using the highly sensitive calcium indicator GCaMP3, we simultaneously monitored the activity of >100 MB neurons in vivo (∼5% of the total population). The MB is thought to encode odors in sparse patterns of activity, but the code has yet to be explored either on a population level or with a wide variety of stimuli. We therefore imaged responses to odors chosen to evaluate the robustness of sparse representations. Different odors activated distinct patterns of MB neurons; however, we found no evidence for spatial organization of neurons by either response probability or odor tuning within the cell body layer. The degree of sparseness was consistent across a wide range of stimuli, from monomolecular odors to artificial blends and even complex natural smells. Sparseness was mainly invariant across concentrations, largely because of the influence of recent odor experience. Finally, in contrast to sensory processing in other systems, no response features distinguished natural stimuli from monomolecular odors. Our results indicate that the fundamental feature of odor processing in the MB is to create sparse stimulus representations in a format that facilitates arbitrary associations between odor and punishment or reward.

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    08/17/11 | Simultaneous recognition and segmentation of cells: application in C. elegans.
    Qu L, Long F, Liu X, Kim S, Myers E, Peng H
    Bioinformatics. 2011 Aug 17;27(20):2895-902. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btr480

    MOTIVATION: Automatic recognition of cell identities is critical for quantitative measurement, targeting, and manipulation of cells of model animals at single-cell resolution. It has been shown to be a powerful tool for studying gene expression and regulation, cell lineages, and cell fates. Existing methods first segment cells, before applying a recognition algorithm in the second step. As a result, the segmentation errors in the first step directly affect and complicate the subsequent cell recognition step. Moreover, in new experimental settings, some of the image features that have been previously relied upon to recognize cells may not be easy to reproduce, due to limitations on the number of color channels available for fluorescent imaging or to the cost of building transgenic animals. An approach that is more accurate and relies on only a single signal channel is clearly desirable. RESULTS: We have developed a new method, called SRS (for Simultaneous Recognition and Segmentation of cells), and applied it to 3D image stacks of the model organism C. elegans. Given a 3D image stack of the animal and a 3D atlas of target cells, SRS is effectively an atlas-guided voxel classification process: cell recognition is realized by smoothly deforming the atlas to best fit the image, where the segmentation is obtained naturally via classification of all image voxels. The method achieved a 97.7% overall recognition accuracy in recognizing a key class of marker cells, the body wall muscle (BWM) cells, on a data set of 175 C. elegans image stacks containing 14,118 manually curated BWM cells providing the "ground-truth" for accuracy. This result was achieved without any additional fiducial image features. SRS also automatically identified 14 of the image stacks as involving ±90-degree rotations. With these stacks excluded from the data set, the recognition accuracy rose to 99.1%. We also show SRS is generally applicable to other cell-types, e.g. intestinal cells. AVAILABILITY: The supplementary movies can be downloaded from our website The method has been implemented as a plug-in program within the V3D system ( and will be released in the V3D plugin source code repository.

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    08/16/11 | Serotonin-mushroom body circuit modulating the formation of anesthesia-resistant memory in Drosophila.
    Lee P, Lin H, Chang Y, Fu T, Dubnau J, Hirsh J, Lee T, Chiang A
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011 Aug 16;108(33):13794-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1019483108

    Pavlovian olfactory learning in Drosophila produces two genetically distinct forms of intermediate-term memories: anesthesia-sensitive memory, which requires the amnesiac gene, and anesthesia-resistant memory (ARM), which requires the radish gene. Here, we report that ARM is specifically enhanced or inhibited in flies with elevated or reduced serotonin (5HT) levels, respectively. The requirement for 5HT was additive with the memory defect of the amnesiac mutation but was occluded by the radish mutation. This result suggests that 5HT and Radish protein act on the same pathway for ARM formation. Three supporting lines of evidence indicate that ARM formation requires 5HT released from only two dorsal paired medial (DPM) neurons onto the mushroom bodies (MBs), the olfactory learning and memory center in Drosophila: (i) DPM neurons were 5HT-antibody immunopositive; (ii) temporal inhibition of 5HT synthesis or release from DPM neurons, but not from other serotonergic neurons, impaired ARM formation; (iii) knocking down the expression of d5HT1A serotonin receptors in α/β MB neurons, which are innervated by DPM neurons, inhibited ARM formation. Thus, in addition to the Amnesiac peptide required for anesthesia-sensitive memory formation, the two DPM neurons also release 5HT acting on MB neurons for ARM formation.

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    08/09/11 | Limiting amounts of centrosome material set centrosome size in C.elegans embryos.
    Decker M, Jaensch S, Pozniakovsky A, Zinke A, O’Connell KF, Zachariae W, Myers E, Hyman AA
    Current Biology. 2011 Aug 9;21(15):1259-67. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.002

    The ways in which cells set the size of intracellular structures is an important but largely unsolved problem [1]. Early embryonic divisions pose special problems in this regard. Many checkpoints common in somatic cells are missing from these divisions, which are characterized by rapid reductions in cell size and short cell cycles [2]. Embryonic cells must therefore possess simple and robust mechanisms that allow the size of many of their intracellular structures to rapidly scale with cell size.

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    08/02/11 | Symmetries in stimulus statistics shape the form of visual motion estimators.
    Fitzgerald JE, Katsov AY, Clandinin TR, Schnitzer MJ
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011 Aug 02;108(31):12909-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015680108

    The estimation of visual motion has long been studied as a paradigmatic neural computation, and multiple models have been advanced to explain behavioral and neural responses to motion signals. A broad class of models, originating with the Reichardt correlator model, proposes that animals estimate motion by computing a temporal cross-correlation of light intensities from two neighboring points in visual space. These models provide a good description of experimental data in specific contexts but cannot explain motion percepts in stimuli lacking pairwise correlations. Here, we develop a theoretical formalism that can accommodate diverse stimuli and behavioral goals. To achieve this, we treat motion estimation as a problem of Bayesian inference. Pairwise models emerge as one component of the generalized strategy for motion estimation. However, correlation functions beyond second order enable more accurate motion estimation. Prior expectations that are asymmetric with respect to bright and dark contrast use correlations of both even and odd orders, and we show that psychophysical experiments using visual stimuli with symmetric probability distributions for contrast cannot reveal whether the subject uses odd-order correlators for motion estimation. This result highlights a gap in previous experiments, which have largely relied on symmetric contrast distributions. Our theoretical treatment provides a natural interpretation of many visual motion percepts, indicates that motion estimation should be revisited using a broader class of stimuli, demonstrates how correlation-based motion estimation is related to stimulus statistics, and provides multiple experimentally testable predictions.

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    Druckmann Lab
    08/01/11 | Effective stimuli for constructing reliable neuron models.
    Druckmann S, Berger TK, Schürmann F, Hill S, Markram H, Segev I
    PLoS Computational Biology. 2011 Aug;7(8):e1002133. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002133

    The rich dynamical nature of neurons poses major conceptual and technical challenges for unraveling their nonlinear membrane properties. Traditionally, various current waveforms have been injected at the soma to probe neuron dynamics, but the rationale for selecting specific stimuli has never been rigorously justified. The present experimental and theoretical study proposes a novel framework, inspired by learning theory, for objectively selecting the stimuli that best unravel the neuron’s dynamics. The efficacy of stimuli is assessed in terms of their ability to constrain the parameter space of biophysically detailed conductance-based models that faithfully replicate the neuron’s dynamics as attested by their ability to generalize well to the neuron’s response to novel experimental stimuli. We used this framework to evaluate a variety of stimuli in different types of cortical neurons, ages and animals. Despite their simplicity, a set of stimuli consisting of step and ramp current pulses outperforms synaptic-like noisy stimuli in revealing the dynamics of these neurons. The general framework that we propose paves a new way for defining, evaluating and standardizing effective electrical probing of neurons and will thus lay the foundation for a much deeper understanding of the electrical nature of these highly sophisticated and non-linear devices and of the neuronal networks that they compose.

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    08/01/11 | RNIE: genome-wide prediction of bacterial intrinsic terminators.
    Gardner PP, Barquist L, Bateman A, Nawrocki EP, Weinberg Z
    Nucleic Acids Research. 2011 Aug;39(14):5845-52. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr168

    Bacterial Rho-independent terminators (RITs) are important genomic landmarks involved in gene regulation and terminating gene expression. In this investigation we present RNIE, a probabilistic approach for predicting RITs. The method is based upon covariance models which have been known for many years to be the most accurate computational tools for predicting homology in structural non-coding RNAs. We show that RNIE has superior performance in model species from a spectrum of bacterial phyla. Further analysis of species where a low number of RITs were predicted revealed a highly conserved structural sequence motif enriched near the genic termini of the pathogenic Actinobacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This motif, together with classical RITs, account for up to 90% of all the significantly structured regions from the termini of M. tuberculosis genic elements. The software, predictions and alignments described below are available from

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    Gonen Lab
    08/01/11 | Secretins: dynamic channels for protein transport across membranes.
    Korotkov KV, Gonen T, Hol WG
    Trends in Biochemical Sciences. 2011 Aug;36(8):433-43. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2011.04.002

    Secretins form megadalton bacterial-membrane channels in at least four sophisticated multiprotein systems that are crucial for translocation of proteins and assembled fibers across the outer membrane of many species of bacteria. Secretin subunits contain multiple domains, which interact with numerous other proteins, including pilotins, secretion-system partner proteins, and exoproteins. Our understanding of the structure of secretins is rapidly progressing, and it is now recognized that features common to all secretins include a cylindrical arrangement of 12-15 subunits, a large periplasmic vestibule with a wide opening at one end and a periplasmic gate at the other. Secretins might also play a key role in the biogenesis of their cognate secretion systems.

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    08/01/11 | Shedding light on the system: studying embryonic development with light sheet microscopy.
    Tomer R, Khairy K, Keller PJ
    Current Opinion in Genetics and Development. 2011 Aug;21(5):558-65. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2011.07.003

    Light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) is emerging as a powerful imaging technique for the life sciences. LSFM provides an exceptionally high imaging speed, high signal-to-noise ratio, low level of photo-bleaching and good optical penetration depth. This unique combination of capabilities makes light sheet-based microscopes highly suitable for live imaging applications. There is an outstanding potential in applying this technology to the quantitative study of embryonic development. Here, we provide an overview of the different basic implementations of LSFM, review recent technical advances in the field and highlight applications in the context of embryonic development. We conclude with a discussion of promising future directions.

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