Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study describes first maps of neural activity in behaving zebrafish

Date:
March 19, 2014
Source:
Champalimaud Foundation
Summary:
In a new study, neuroscientists describe the first activity maps at the resolution of single cells and throughout the entire brain of behaving zebrafish.

In a study published today (19/3/2014) in the scientific journal Neuron, neuroscientists at the Champalimaud Foundation, in collaboration with neuroscientists from Harvard University, describe the first activity maps at the resolution of single cells and throughout the entire brain of behaving zebrafish.

"This opens up new possibilities for studying neural circuits in the brain," says Michael Orger, principal investigator at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme. "In order to understand how the brain works, it is imperative that we can record the activity of the cells of the brain -- the neurons, and at the same time be able to relate that to an animal's behaviour." Until recently, available methods allowed researchers to monitor activity in only a small fraction of the neurons in the brain, but "Now, we can systematically record activity through the whole brain of the zebrafish, which contains about one hundred thousand neurons, while at the same time we are monitoring its movements using high speed video."

Claudia Feierstein, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Orger explains, "by watching the brain while the fish tries to follow rotating visual patterns by moving its eyes and tail, we were able to identify the specific brain structures that are involved in these behaviours, and how different patterns of activity reflect the different aspects of sensory and motor processing."

One of the strengths of this method is that, because whole brain activity maps are recorded from a single fish, rather than pieced together across multiple experiments, it is possible to compare the neural circuit organization across different individuals. "When we talk about brain activity maps," says Dr. Orger "an important question is to what extent the circuits in different animals are similar. How precisely can we predict where we will find particular neurons from one brain to another?."

Surprisingly, the study revealed that, while the network of neurons mediating simple visual-motor behaviours is widely distributed across the brain, the pattern can be highly stereotyped between individuals. "If you identify a region with a particular pattern of activity in one fish, you can typically find neurons with the same activity within a few micrometers in the brain of another fish." says Ruben Portugues, a scientist from the group of Professor Florian Engert at Harvard, who coauthored the study. This has important practical consequences, because it makes it possible to build a detailed functional atlas of the brain, which allows researchers to locate and target specific groups of neurons. This map of functional "blocks" can also be aligned with existing maps of gene expression to assign behavioural roles to different cell types in the brain.

This systematic approach to mapping activity also enables researchers to discover rare cell populations that might have stayed hidden for decades. "We found a handful of neurons in the main visual processing area of the fish brain, called the optic tectum, that integrate motion information from both eyes. This was surprising since this area only gets direct information from one eye." Says Dr. Orger. "These cells are few in number, but may play an important role in the behaviour of the animal, since they allow him to decode how he is moving through the water." According to the researchers, the next step is to use optical and genetic targeting of interesting subpopulations of neurons, such as this one, and apply specific manipulations that will ultimately reveal how the brain processes sensory information to generate appropriate movements.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Champalimaud Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ruben Portugues, Claudia E. Feierstein, Florian Engert, Michael B. Orger. Whole-Brain Activity Maps Reveal Stereotyped, Distributed Networks for Visuomotor Behavior. Neuron, 2014; 81 (6): 1328-1343 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.019

Cite This Page:

Champalimaud Foundation. "Study describes first maps of neural activity in behaving zebrafish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319124810.htm>.
Champalimaud Foundation. (2014, March 19). Study describes first maps of neural activity in behaving zebrafish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319124810.htm
Champalimaud Foundation. "Study describes first maps of neural activity in behaving zebrafish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319124810.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins