EECS Recruitment Seminar: Developing New Tools to Image Network Dynamics in Freely Behaving Animals

Harut Barsamian Colloquia Room, EH 2430
Daniel B. Aharoni, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology
University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract: One of the biggest challenges in neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits in the brain process, encode, store and retrieve information. Meeting this challenge requires tools capable of recording and manipulating the activity of intact neural networks in freely behaving animals. Head-mounted miniature fluorescence microscopes are among the most promising of these tools. Taking advantage the past decade of advancements in fluorescent neural activity reports, these microscopes use wide-field single photon excitation to image activity across large populations of neurons in freely behaving animals. They are capable of imaging the same neural population across months and in a wide range of different brain regions.

Initiated five years ago, the Miniscope Project - an open-source collaborative effort - aims at accelerating innovation of miniature microscope technology while also extending access to the entire neuroscience community. Built from the ground up, we have developed a robust, flexible and affordable open-source imaging platform and online resource, Through online guides and in-person workshops, over 400 labs across 18 countries have begun building and using our system. Currently, we are working on advancements ranging from optogenetic stimulation and wire-free operation to simultaneous optical and ephys recording. Through continued optimization and innovation, miniature microscopes will likely play a critical role in extending the reach of neuroscience research and creating new avenues of scientific inquiry.

Bio:  Aharoni's work focuses on bridging the gap between specialized tool design and the intricacies of modern neuroscience. By applying design methodologies from engineering and physics, the Aharoni laboratory develops specialized neuroscience research devices to address open questions in the field. This group leads the development of the UCLA Miniscope Project and builds other tools with an emphasis on i) neural recording techniques for freely behaving animals and ii) open-source dissemination of novel technology. Through innovation and optimization, this work aims to extend the reach of neuroscience and train the next generation of research-driven tool developers.