Flyception: imaging brain activity in freely walking fruit flies

Nat Methods. 2016 Jul;13(7):569-72. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3866. Epub 2016 May 16.


Genetically encoded calcium sensors have enabled monitoring of neural activity in vivo using optical imaging techniques. Linking neural activity to complex behavior remains challenging, however, as most imaging systems require tethering the animal, which can impact the animal's behavioral repertoire. Here, we report a method for monitoring the brain activity of untethered, freely walking Drosophila melanogaster during sensorially and socially evoked behaviors to facilitate the study of neural mechanisms that underlie naturalistic behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Walking / physiology*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Calcium