From Whole-Brain Data to Functional Circuit Models: The Zebrafish Optomotor Response

Cell. 2016 Nov 3;167(4):947-960.e20. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.019.


Detailed descriptions of brain-scale sensorimotor circuits underlying vertebrate behavior remain elusive. Recent advances in zebrafish neuroscience offer new opportunities to dissect such circuits via whole-brain imaging, behavioral analysis, functional perturbations, and network modeling. Here, we harness these tools to generate a brain-scale circuit model of the optomotor response, an orienting behavior evoked by visual motion. We show that such motion is processed by diverse neural response types distributed across multiple brain regions. To transform sensory input into action, these regions sequentially integrate eye- and direction-specific sensory streams, refine representations via interhemispheric inhibition, and demix locomotor instructions to independently drive turning and forward swimming. While experiments revealed many neural response types throughout the brain, modeling identified the dimensions of functional connectivity most critical for the behavior. We thus reveal how distributed neurons collaborate to generate behavior and illustrate a paradigm for distilling functional circuit models from whole-brain data.

Keywords: behavioral analysis; calcium imaging; circuit model; two-photon imaging; zebrafish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Feedback, Sensory*
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neurons
  • Swimming
  • Visual Perception*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*