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5 Janelia Publications

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    11/04/19 | Zebrafish neuroscience: Using artificial neural networks to help understand brains.
    Ahrens MB
    Current Biology. 2019 Nov 04;29(21):R1138-R1140. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.039

    Brains are notoriously hard to understand, and neuroscientists need all the tools they can get their hands on to have a realistic shot at it. Advances in machine learning are proving instrumental, illustrated by their recent use to shed light on navigational strategies implemented by zebrafish brains.

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    10/18/19 | A bidirectional network for appetite control in larval zebrafish.
    Wee CL, Song EY, Johnson RE, Ailani D, Randlett O, Kim J, Nikitchenko M, Bahl A, Yang C, Ahrens MB, Kawakami K, Engert F, Kunes S
    Elife. 2019 Oct 18;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.43775

    Medial and lateral hypothalamic loci are known to suppress and enhance appetite, respectively, but the dynamics and functional significance of their interaction have yet to be explored. Here we report that, in larval zebrafish, primarily serotonergic neurons of the ventromedial caudal hypothalamus (cH) become increasingly active during food deprivation, whereas activity in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) is reduced. Exposure to food sensory and consummatory cues reverses the activity patterns of these two nuclei, consistent with their representation of opposing internal hunger states. Baseline activity is restored as food-deprived animals return to satiety via voracious feeding. The antagonistic relationship and functional importance of cH and LH activity patterns were confirmed by targeted stimulation and ablation of cH neurons. Collectively, the data allow us to propose a model in which these hypothalamic nuclei regulate different phases of hunger and satiety and coordinate energy balance via antagonistic control of distinct behavioral outputs.

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    08/13/19 | Bright and photostable chemigenetic indicators for extended in vivo voltage imaging.
    Abdelfattah AS, Kawashima T, Singh A, Novak O, Liu H, Shuai Y, Huang Y, Campagnola L, Seeman SC, Yu J, Zheng J, Grimm JB, Patel R, Friedrich J, Mensh BD, Paninski L, Macklin JJ, Murphy GJ, Podgorski K, Lin B, Chen T, Turner GC, Liu Z, Koyama M, Svoboda K, Ahrens MB, Lavis LD, Schreiter ER
    Science. 2019 Aug 13;365(6454):699-704. doi: 10.1126/science.aav6416

    Imaging changes in membrane potential using genetically encoded fluorescent voltage indicators (GEVIs) has great potential for monitoring neuronal activity with high spatial and temporal resolution. Brightness and photostability of fluorescent proteins and rhodopsins have limited the utility of existing GEVIs. We engineered a novel GEVI, "Voltron", that utilizes bright and photostable synthetic dyes instead of protein-based fluorophores, extending the combined duration of imaging and number of neurons imaged simultaneously by more than tenfold relative to existing GEVIs. We used Voltron for in vivo voltage imaging in mice, zebrafish, and fruit flies. In mouse cortex, Voltron allowed single-trial recording of spikes and subthreshold voltage signals from dozens of neurons simultaneously, over 15 min of continuous imaging. In larval zebrafish, Voltron enabled the precise correlation of spike timing with behavior.

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    07/15/19 | A genetically encoded fluorescent sensor for in vivo imaging of GABA.
    Marvin JS, Shimoda Y, Magloire V, Leite M, Kawashima T, Jensen TP, Kolb I, Knott EL, Novak O, Podgorski K, Leidenheimer NJ, Rusakov DA, Ahrens MB, Kullmann DM, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2019 Jul 15;16(8):763-770. doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0471-2

    Current techniques for monitoring GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in vertebrates, cannot follow transients in intact neural circuits. To develop a GABA sensor, we applied the design principles used to create the fluorescent glutamate receptor iGluSnFR. We used a protein derived from a previously unsequenced Pseudomonas fluorescens strain and performed structure-guided mutagenesis and library screening to obtain intensity-based GABA sensing fluorescence reporter (iGABASnFR) variants. iGABASnFR is genetically encoded, detects GABA release evoked by electric stimulation of afferent fibers in acute brain slices and produces readily detectable fluorescence increases in vivo in mice and zebrafish. We applied iGABASnFR to track mitochondrial GABA content and its modulation by an anticonvulsant, swimming-evoked, GABA-mediated transmission in zebrafish cerebellum, GABA release events during interictal spikes and seizures in awake mice, and found that GABA-mediated tone decreases during isoflurane anesthesia.

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    06/27/19 | Glia accumulate evidence that actions are futile and suppress unsuccessful behavior.
    Mu Y, Bennett DV, Rubinov M, Narayan S, Yang C, Tanimoto M, Mensh BD, Looger LL, Ahrens MB
    Cell. 2019 Jun 27;178(1):27-43. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.050

    When a behavior repeatedly fails to achieve its goal, animals often give up and become passive, which can be strategic for preserving energy or regrouping between attempts. It is unknown how the brain identifies behavioral failures and mediates this behavioral-state switch. In larval zebrafish swimming in virtual reality, visual feedback can be withheld so that swim attempts fail to trigger expected visual flow. After tens of seconds of such motor futility, animals became passive for similar durations. Whole-brain calcium imaging revealed noradrenergic neurons that responded specifically to failed swim attempts and radial astrocytes whose calcium levels accumulated with increasing numbers of failed attempts. Using cell ablation and optogenetic or chemogenetic activation, we found that noradrenergic neurons progressively activated brainstem radial astrocytes, which then suppressed swimming. Thus, radial astrocytes perform a computation critical for behavior: they accumulate evidence that current actions are ineffective and consequently drive changes in behavioral states.

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