Functional imaging in freely moving animals

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012 Feb;22(1):45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.12.002. Epub 2012 Jan 9.


Uncovering the relationships between animal behavior and cellular activity in the brain has been one of the key aims of neuroscience research for decades, and still remains so. Electrophysiological approaches have enabled sparse sampling from electrically excitable cells in freely moving animals that has led to the identification of important phenomena such as place, grid and head-direction cells. Optical imaging in combination with newly developed labeling approaches now allows minimally invasive and comprehensive sampling from dense networks of electrically and chemically excitable cells such as neurons and glia during self-determined behavior. To achieve this two main imaging avenues have been followed: Optical recordings in head-restrained, mobile animals and miniature microscope-bearing freely moving animals. Here we review progress made toward functional cellular imaging in freely moving rodents, focusing on developments over the past few years. We discuss related challenges and biological applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neurophysiology / instrumentation*
  • Neurophysiology / methods*