Real-time visualization of neuronal activity during perception

Akira Muto, Masamichi Ohkura, Gembu Abe, Junichi Nakai, Koichi Kawakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


To understand how the brain perceives the external world, it is desirable to observe neuronal activity in the brain in real time during perception. The zebrafish is a suitable model animal for fluorescence imaging studies to visualize neuronal activity because its body is transparent through the embryonic and larval stages. Imaging studies have been carried out to monitor neuronal activity in the larval spinal cord and brain using Ca2+ indicator dyes [1-3] and DNA-encoded Ca2+ indicators, such as Cameleon [4], GFP-aequorin [5], and GCaMPs [6-12]. However, temporal and spatial resolution and sensitivity of these tools are still limited, and imaging of brain activity during perception of a natural object has not yet been demonstrated. Here we demonstrate visualization of neuronal activity in the optic tectum of larval zebrafish by genetically expressing the new version of GCaMP. First, we demonstrate Ca2+ transients in the tectum evoked by a moving spot on a display and identify direction-selective neurons. Second, we show tectal activity during perception of a natural object, a swimming paramecium, revealing a functional visuotopic map. Finally, we image the tectal responses of a free-swimming larval fish to a paramecium and thereby correlate neuronal activity in the brain with prey capture behavior. Video Abstract:

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-311
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb 18


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