Recent years have seen substantial developments in technology for imaging neural circuits, raising the prospect of large scale imaging studies of neural populations involved in information processing, with the potential to lead to step changes in our understanding of brain function and dysfunction. In this article we will review some key recent advances: improved fluorophores for single cell resolution functional neuroimaging using a two photon microscope; improved approaches to the problem of scanning active circuits; and the prospect of scanless microscopes which overcome some of the bandwidth limitations of current imaging techniques. These advances in technology for experimental neuroscience have in themselves led to technical challenges, such as the need for the development of novel signal processing and data analysis tools in order to make the most of the new experimental tools. We review recent work in some active topics, such as region of interest segmentation algorithms capable of demixing overlapping signals, and new highly accurate algorithms for calcium transient detection. These advances motivate the development of new data analysis tools capable of dealing with spatial or spatiotemporal patterns of neural activity, that scale well with pattern size.
Keywords: acousto-optic; beamlets; calcium imaging; calcium transient detection; cortical circuits; galvanometric scanning; holography; light sheet microscopy; multiphoton imaging; neural code; neurotechnology.