Seeing the visual world in the brain in real time

Press Release

Real-Time Visualization of Neuronal Activity during Perception

Akira Muto, Masamichi Ohkura, Gembu Abe, Junichi Nakai and Koichi Kawakami
Current Biology, 23(4), Feb 18, 2013. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.12.040

The visual world is first projected onto the retina, and the visual information is further transmitted to the brain. In this initial stage of visual processing, the visual world is mapped on the brain, which is called visuotopy. This is a common feature found in the brains of all animals with eyes. While visuotopy is a well-established notion, no one has ever demonstrated this in real time in a natural condition. In this study we developed an improved version of GCaMP, a calcium sensor, in collaboration with Prof. Nakai at Saitama University. Using this new highly sensitive calcium probe, we could visualize neuronal activity in a zebrafish larva during visual perception in prey capture behavior.


A swimming paramecium (arrowheads) evoked Ca2+ transients (arrows) in the neuropil and cell bodies of the left tectum of a one-week old larva embedded in agarose. Ratio images were created and pseudo-colored. Scale bar represents 100 μm.

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