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4 Janelia Publications

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    11/06/14 | Anesthetized- and awake-patched whole-cell recordings in freely moving rats using UV-cured collar-based electrode stabilization.
    Lee D, Shtengel G, Osborne JE, Lee AK
    Nature Protocols. 2014 Nov 06;9(12):2784-95. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2014.190

    Intracellular recording allows precise measurement and manipulation of individual neurons, but it requires stable mechanical contact between the electrode and the cell membrane, and thus it has remained challenging to perform in behaving animals. Whole-cell recordings in freely moving animals can be obtained by rigidly fixing ('anchoring') the pipette electrode to the head; however, previous anchoring procedures were slow and often caused substantial pipette movement, resulting in loss of the recording or of recording quality. We describe a UV-transparent collar and UV-cured adhesive technique that rapidly (within 15 s) anchors pipettes in place with virtually no movement, thus substantially improving the reliability, yield and quality of freely moving whole-cell recordings. Recordings are first obtained from anesthetized or awake head-fixed rats. UV light cures the thin adhesive layers linking pipette to collar to head. Then, the animals are rapidly and smoothly released for recording during unrestrained behavior. The anesthetized-patched version can be completed in ∼4-7 h (excluding histology) and the awake-patched version requires ∼1-4 h per day for ∼2 weeks. These advances should greatly facilitate studies of neuronal integration and plasticity in identified cells during natural behaviors.

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    08/15/14 | Large environments reveal the statistical structure governing hippocampal representations.
    Rich PD, Liaw H, Lee AK
    Science. 2014 Aug 15;345(6198):814-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1255635

    The rules governing the formation of spatial maps in the hippocampus have not been determined. We investigated the large-scale structure of place field activity by recording hippocampal neurons in rats exploring a previously unencountered 48-meter-long track. Single-cell and population activities were well described by a two-parameter stochastic model. Individual neurons had their own characteristic propensity for forming fields randomly along the track, with some cells expressing many fields and many exhibiting few or none. Because of the particular distribution of propensities across cells, the number of neurons with fields scaled logarithmically with track length over a wide, ethological range. These features constrain hippocampal memory mechanisms, may allow efficient encoding of environments and experiences of vastly different extents and durations, and could reflect general principles of population coding.

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    07/16/14 | Natural whisker-guided behavior by head-fixed mice in tactile virtual reality.
    Sofroniew NJ, Cohen JD, Lee AK, Svoboda K
    Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 Jul 16;34(29):9537-50. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0712-14.2014

    During many natural behaviors the relevant sensory stimuli and motor outputs are difficult to quantify. Furthermore, the high dimensionality of the space of possible stimuli and movements compounds the problem of experimental control. Head fixation facilitates stimulus control and movement tracking, and can be combined with techniques for recording and manipulating neural activity. However, head-fixed mouse behaviors are typically trained through extensive instrumental conditioning. Here we present a whisker-based, tactile virtual reality system for head-fixed mice running on a spherical treadmill. Head-fixed mice displayed natural movements, including running and rhythmic whisking at 16 Hz. Whisking was centered on a set point that changed in concert with running so that more protracted whisking was correlated with faster running. During turning, whiskers moved in an asymmetric manner, with more retracted whisker positions in the turn direction and protracted whisker movements on the other side. Under some conditions, whisker movements were phase-coupled to strides. We simulated a virtual reality tactile corridor, consisting of two moveable walls controlled in a closed-loop by running speed and direction. Mice used their whiskers to track the walls of the winding corridor without training. Whisker curvature changes, which cause forces in the sensory follicles at the base of the whiskers, were tightly coupled to distance from the walls. Our behavioral system allows for precise control of sensorimotor variables during natural tactile navigation.

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    06/20/14 | Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in freely moving animals.
    Lee AK, Epsztein J, Brecht M
    Methods in Molecular Biology. 2014 Jun 20;1183:263-76. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1096-0_17

    The patch-clamp technique and the whole-cell measurements derived from it have greatly advanced our understanding of the coding properties of individual neurons by allowing for a detailed analysis of their excitatory/inhibitory synaptic inputs, intrinsic electrical properties, and morphology. Because such measurements require a high level of mechanical stability they have for a long time been limited to in vitro and anesthetized preparations. Recently, however, a considerable amount of effort has been devoted to extending these techniques to awake restrained/head-fixed preparations allowing for the study of the input-output functions of neurons during behavior. In this chapter we describe a technique extending patch-clamp recordings to awake animals free to explore their environments.

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