Imaging Cortical Dynamics in GCaMP Transgenic Rats with a Head-Mounted Widefield Macroscope

  • Authors: Benjamin Scott, Stephan Y. Thiberge, Caiying Guo, D. Gowanlock R. Tervo, Carlos D. Brody, Alla Y. Karpova, David W. Tank

Publication: NEURO, 2018

Widefield imaging of calcium dynamics is an emerging method for mapping regional neural activity but is currently limited to restrained animals. Here we describe cScope, a head-mounted widefield macroscope developed to image large-scale cortical dynamics in rats during natural behavior. cScope provides a 7.8 × 4 mm field of view and dual illumination paths for both fluorescence and hemodynamic correction and can be fabricated at low cost using readily attainable components. We also report the development of Thy-1 transgenic rat strains with widespread neuronal expression of the calcium indicator GCaMP6f. We combined these two technologies to image large-scale calcium dynamics in the dorsal neocortex during a visual evidence accumulation task. Quantitative analysis of task-related dynamics revealed multiple regions having neural signals that encode behavioral choice and sensory evidence. Our results provide a new transgenic resource for calcium imaging in rats and extend the domain of head-mounted microscopes to larger-scale cortical dynamics.

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Brigitte Stark