A Platform for Brain-wide Volumetric Functional Ultrasound Imaging and Analysis of Circuit Dynamics in Awake Mice

Neuron. 2020 Oct 9;S0896-6273(20)30720-0. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.09.020. Online ahead of print.


Imaging large-scale circuit dynamics is crucial to understanding brain function, but most techniques have a limited depth of field. Here, we describe volumetric functional ultrasound imaging (vfUSI), a platform for brain-wide vfUSI of hemodynamic activity in awake head-fixed mice. We combined a high-frequency 1,024-channel 2D-array transducer with advanced multiplexing and high-performance computing for real-time 3D power Doppler imaging at a high spatiotemporal resolution (220 × 280 × 175 μm3, up to 6 Hz). We developed a standardized software pipeline for registration, segmentation, and temporal analysis in 268 individual brain regions based on the Allen Mouse Common Coordinate Framework. We demonstrated the high sensitivity of vfUSI under multiple experimental conditions, and we successfully imaged stimulus-evoked activity when only a few trials were averaged. We also mapped neural circuits in vivo across the whole brain during optogenetic activation of specific cell types. Moreover, we identified the sequential activation of sensory-motor networks during a grasping water-droplet task.

Keywords: 2D-array transducer; Allen Mouse Common Coordinate Framework; awake mouse; functional ultrasound imaging; large-scale imaging; neural circuits; optogenetics; sensory-motor task.