Tracking live brain activity with NeuBtracker open-source microscope


Hello everybody, my name is Gil Westmeyer,
I am here at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munich and I would like to quickly introduce you
to the NeuBtracker, a neuro-behavioral tracking microscope, that may be used to
simultaneously look at the brain activity and the behavior of freely
swimming zebrafish larvae, and important genetic model organism for biomedical research. To give you an idea of the scales involved, I’m holding a little
swimming arena, that has a central divider and you might picture the
size of the larvae swimming in this arena to be about the size of an exclamation mark on
a printed page. Now we position this arena, filled with water and larvae
swimming in it, in the center of this instrument and there is a camera on top,
that is keeping track of the position of the animal and recording the behavior.
The position is then passed on to a diametric mirror system located
at the upper left of the instrument and that mirror system ensures that the field of view of a fluorescent camera is
always centered around the brain of the animal, so that we can observe
what’s going on. Now in conjunction with genetic reporter lines, such as
calcium indicator lines, that express a fluorescent calcium indicator protein
in certain neurons of the larvae brain, we can then see changes in that present
signal, changes in the brain activity, as this animal is freely exploring the arena. You might appreciate some of these recordings here in the background and
they will be looked at in the context, for instance, of orientation behaviors towards attractive stimuli or away from repulsive ones like cadavers. Another natural line of research that one might be interested in conducting with such an instrument, is to screen neuroactive
drugs with respect to their combined effects on brain activity and behavior
of these larvae. And since everything already happens in water this is quite
convenient. We can just dispense these pharmacological agents into multiple
plates, that we can move around with motorized stages, as an example, and
thereby do a higher throughput screening of these neuroactive drugs.
So if you’re interested in also looking into neurobehavioral imaging in
zebrafish larvae I invite you to visit neubtracker.org.
It is a website we put up, that accompanies our first application
on the matter by some leaders and colleagues and it holds blueprints of
the different designs, as well as code to control the instrument and acquire data.
Please visit us there and also email us about it, so that we can maybe foster
neurobehavioral imaging and also other laboratories in the world.
Thank you very much.

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